Why Russia’s Upgraded Ka-52M ‘Alligator’ Attack Helicopter Could Be More Lethal Than US’ Apache?

The Russian Armed Forces will receive the upgraded Kamov Ka-52M ‘Alligator’ attack helicopter next year. The Russian Alligator is considered more lethal than the US’ Apache because its anti-ship missiles have a better range than those with the American chopper. 

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Russian Helicopters Group, a subsidiary of the state-owned Rostec, said it has successfully assembled the first two prototypes of the helicopter, and the flight trials are underway. In August 2020, the first flight of the upgraded Ka-52 took place at Arsenyev Aviation Company.

At the time, Managing Director of the Progress Arsenyev Aviation Company, Yuri Denisenkov, was quoted by media as saying, “Today flight tests are underway on the territory of the Mil and Kamov National Helicopter Center and 2022 is the planned term of completing the experimental design work.”

The new Ka-52M attack/reconnaissance helicopters have significant upgrades over its earlier designs, taking into account the experience gained by Russian pilots while operating the gunship in Syria.

The new upgrades include an AESA radar, enhancing the target detection, tracking, and engagement ranges for its onboard weapon systems, and a new electric power supply and avionics.

The Ka-52 ‘Alligator’ is stated to be the world’s first operational helicopter with ejection seats. Having a coaxial rotor design specifically seen on Kamov helicopters, it is very different in design from its American counterpart, the AH-64E Apache Longbow.

The Alligator is considered superior to the US’ Apache because its anti-ship missiles have a better range than those of the American chopper.

The Ka-52 is capable of destroying tanks, armored and non-armored vehicles, and all forms of aircraft on the frontline in any weather conditions — day and night.

The Ka-52 is a two-seater variant of the original Ka-50 helicopter. In comparison to the original Ka-50, it has a “softer” nose profile and a radar system with two antennas—mast-mounted for aerial targets and nose-mounted for ground targets.

Day-and-night TV/thermal sighting system in two spherical turrets (one over the cockpit and the second under the nose) are also fitted. Interestingly, the Ka-52 has the side-mounted cannon of the original Ka-50, while most other attack helicopters of comparable role (including the Mi-28N and the Mi-24/25/35) have a chin-mounted 20- or 30-mm cannon.