“Flying tanks,” supporting an offensive outburst of infantry, inflicting pinpoint strikes from supersmall heights, finding small targets in any, even very low visibility conditions — all these definitions are inherent in a special class of combat aircraft, namely attack helicopters. Like ground armored vehicles, they must possess such important properties as high security, maneuverability and fire power. In Russia, these machines began to create relatively recently, but have already achieved impressive results. The last word of design thought was the Ka-52 Alligator helicopter, which absorbed all the useful features of well-known foreign and domestic analogues, but was ahead of its time in many ways.
Formation of the image of the attack helicopter
Helicopters were used in the troops since the end of the Second World War. The attitude towards them of representatives of the Allied armies (the USSR did not have them) differed at this stage by a certain skepticism. The Kopters couldn’t take a lot of combat loads, they also seemed of little use for the landing of landings, were slow-moving, the range was limited - why could such a toy be used, of little use and vulnerable? In Korea, Americans began to use helicopters more widely, mainly to evacuate the wounded, which immediately affected the death rate (the golden hour played a role during which the bleeding soldier should be delivered to the operating table).
In Vietnam, rotary-wing aircraft already occupied leading positions in terms of efficiency, they were used both for medical transportation and as “horses of the air cavalry”. In the second half of this ignominious war, shock samples also appeared ("Cobra"). More often, for this purpose, simply converted the usual "Huey", arming it with rockets and machine guns. Nevertheless, the first step was taken, a new class of aircraft was born. Modern helicopters have a clear functional division. Impact vehicles attack enemy positions, transport - deliver cargo and take out the wounded.
In the USSR and Russia
Approximately the same evolution as abroad, step by step, took place and the domestic aircraft industry, albeit with some delay. Russian first-generation combat helicopters were also created on the basis of universal models by retrofitting and re-equipment. The Mi-4 was the first machine to have built-in small arms in the military version. The most massive rotary-winged machine Mi-8 received rockets on external suspended pylons, on its base (the power plant was borrowed completely) the famous Crocodile, a veteran of Afghanistan Mi-24 was designed, which, however, was repeatedly criticized by military experts for its versatility. In order to effectively perform the shock functions, it turned out to be too heavy, and for landing it had a small capacity. Meanwhile, the experience gained by the Americans dictated the need for narrow specialization. The Black Shark of the Ka-50 was the first and immediately quite successful response to their Apache. Further development of the concept is considered to be the Alligator combat helicopter.
"The first pancake"
The Ka-52 was conceived and created in the conditions of the hardest economic crisis that prevailed in the country after the collapse of the USSR. The first prototype with the aim of saving material resources was designed in 1994 as a variant of the “Black Shark” for two crew members, while maintaining the maximum range of components. The desire to reduce the price itself is commendable and very often quite justified, but in this case it turned out to be only partially relevant. Angular and heavy, and most importantly - too noticeable for enemy radar was the first Alligator helicopter. Its characteristics have deteriorated significantly in comparison with the prototype. As a result, the state commission sent the draft for revision, not "hacked", however, it finally and giving preference to the Mil Mi-28. The main claims were made to the glazing and, in general, to the whole nose, which did not have enough space to house modern avionics, taking into account the modification prospects.
Tests and first attempts at exporting
Ranging from the eighteenth to the frame and next to your nose the whole structure of the "Black shark" has undergone significant changes. In the fall of 1996, the prototype was ready. The black car with the words "alligator" was shown to the public and from interested professionals. In June 1997, the pilot Alexander Smirnov took to the air and "hung" the first prototype "alligator". The helicopter was managed well, and entered a phase of testing in various trim levels navigation and targeting equipment. An attempt in 1999 to offer his Turkish army did not succeed because, under the terms of the tender, the Assembly of partial equipment was to be made outside Russia, contrary to the considerations of technological security. For the same reason, it minimized the participation in the competition to supply machines for the Republic of Korea (2000). These events certainly influenced the economic situation of KB. Kamov, but the prospects turned out to be ultimately better than expected.
The year 2006 was happy: a major breakthrough took place in the promotion of the Kamov machine. The main rival of the "Alligator" was considered the Mi-28N KB them. Mile, a long time ahead of him on the prospects for further production. Both cars were so good that the Ministry of Defense could not choose the best for a long time, but in the end it made a Solomon's decision. The series was launched and Milevsky "Night Hunter", and "Alligator." The Ka-52 helicopter was originally supposed to be armed with special forces units, and the Mi-28N to be a combined-arms model. These plans changed over time, although both remarkable machines were widely used in the Russian army. The base production is located in Primorye, at the Arsenyev aircraft factory.
General layout and airframe
The Ka-52 “Alligator” helicopter has a classic design for Kamov Design Bureau with coaxial screws, in which there is no need for a compensatory steering propeller. The tail part is borrowed from the “Black Shark” and is a beam with plumage. The stabilizer is stationary, the horizontal plane is equipped with a steering wheel. The wing has a span of 7 m 30 cm and is equipped with six external suspension pylons. The chassis is retracted, which reduces visibility and improves aerodynamics. The length of the airframe is 14200 mm, the diameter of the screws is 14.5 meters. The mass of the empty machine is 7.8 tons, and 10.4 tons in curb condition. The Ka-62 “Alligator” can carry up to 2.3 tons of combat load. The helicopter has a reserve of fuel in the internal protected tanks up to one and a half tons and more than 2 tons in the PTB (outboard). The combat radius depends on the mass of the load and speed, it can reach thousands of kilometers in the distillation mode, or 520 km when flying at low altitude. Maximum speed - 310 km / h, cruising - 270 km / h. Allowable overload - up to 3.5 g. The Russian Alligator helicopter is currently the only representative of this class of aircraft in the world capable of performing aerobatics, in particular the loop of Nesterov.
Foreign designers of attack helicopters preferred the tandem layout of the crew. Such a landing of the pilot and the weapon operator has its advantages, the most important of which is the reduction of the cross section and, consequently, the reduction of aerodynamic drag and the area of frontal destruction. Otherwise designed "Alligator". The helicopter has sufficient armor protection (special glazing), and in the conditions of modern combat, the danger of lateral hits from the fragments of shells of portable compact air defense systems is most likely. In the event of a vehicle being hit, the crew has the opportunity to leave it through the side doors or to eject after the automatic ejection of the blades. Management ergonomically, duplicated (display on the windshield, monitors and additional devices). There is also a system of assisted target designation, night vision, and many other elements of intelligent control of both the machine and the weapons.
Structurally, the power plant includes a large number of polymer bearings, which led to a decrease in lubrication points to three.
Powerful high-speed avionics, able to distinguish and identify targets in a virtually unlimited range (air, ground, slow, speed, etc.), allows to manage the entire range of snap combat helicopter Ka-52. Equipment a high-precision 30-mm rapid-fire artillery system NPPU-80, missiles "air – land" ATGM "Whirlwind" with a laser armament, UR "air – air" ("Igla-V"), containers cannon and bombs of various calibers. Various combinations are possible, depending on what the problem is posed to the crew.
Airborne electronic equipment allows you to perform combat work in both individual and group mode with a high degree of consistency. The mass of the load is affected by the remoteness of the target (presence of outboard fuel tanks) and additional electronic equipment for combat to suppress the activity of enemy air defense. "Alligator" has the ability to sneak up to the target on the flat course with rounding obstacles, even such difficult ones as power transmission towers and wires.