Naval Air: An Offer Egypt Could Not Refuse


January 14, 2016: In January 2015 Russia sold Egypt 46 Ka-52K attack helicopters to equip the two Mistral-class helicopter carriers recently purchased from France. The Russians had developed the Ka-52K for use on the Mistrals but after sanctions were imposed on Russia (for aggression in Ukraine) France cancelled delivery of the ships. Russia was left with some helicopters that had lost their customer. To solve this they got France to agree that anyone who purchased Mistral would be obliged to buy these helicopters as well. It took many months to work out that agreement. The Egyptian deal will include 46 helicopters as well as weapons, ammunition, spares and training for pilots and ground crews. The helicopters are to be delivered by the end of 2017.

The Kamov Ka-52 is a two-seat version of the earlier Ka-50. It is a reconnaissance and attack helicopter. Its development started in 1994 while the first flight was conducted in 1997. Till now only Russia had been using it and in small number due budget restrictions.

The helicopter design is pretty unique because it uses two coaxial contra-rotating main rotors in caparison to typical one main rotor and second small on tail which is responsible for flight stabilization. Egypt will receive the K version which differs from the standard Ka-52 by having folding rotors and folding stub wings. The Ka-52 has a side-by-side seat cockpit rather than typical tandem-seat design. This change is expected to make it easier for the helicopter crew to perform battlefield observation and coordination roles but on the other hand is worsening helicopter aerodynamics thus fuel consumption and speed is negatively affected.

The Ka-52 armor is said to withstand 23mm rounds. Pilots have ejection-seats and can also fly when one engine is damaged. For situational awareness Ka-52 can use various passive or active optical and radar detection systems. The helicopter is powered by two 2400 horsepower engines, weighs about 8 tones empty and has nearly 11 tones maximum takeoff weight.Ka-52 has a top speed of 350 kilometers an hour and can carry up to two tons of weapons or additional fuel. Normal operating range is 260 kilometers, but with additional fuel tanks it can stay in the air for up to four hours.

Ka-52 armament consist of a side-mounted 30-mm cannon with a capacity of 240 rounds, the six wing-mounted external hardpoints which can carry anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM), unguided rocket pods, 23mm gun pods, SA-18 Igla air-to-air missile or AA-11 Archer. Furthermore is said that even Kh-35 medium-range anti-ship missiles or even supersonic Kh-31s can be carried.

This is first export sale of this quite unique design. Egypt has been forced to buy these helicopters because they were part of mistral deal however it is not a bad thing because this version was developed precisely for these ships. -- Przemysław Juraszek




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