Warplanes: November 2, 2004

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Russia has bought few new helicopter gunships since 1991, when the Cold War ended. There wasn't any money for it. But now Russia is going to buy three of the latest and greatest of the Russian made helicopter gunships, the Ka-52. However, the purchase is mainly for evaluation, and to give the manufacturer a better chance of snagging foreign sales. 

In the 1980s, Russia began developing a replacement for its 1960s era Mi-24 helicopter gunship. The result was the Mi-28 and Ka-50, which were competing designs as the Mi-24 replacement. Unfortunately, both were not ready for service until after the Cold War, and Russians era of big military budgets, ended. Now there is the higher tech Ka-52, a 12 ton chopper more like the American gunships (with only a two man crew), than the earlier M-24 (which carried a lot of weapons, but could still haul cargo or eight infantrymen.) The Ka-52 has an impressive assortment of weapons it can carry (30 mm 2A42 gun, twelve AT-9 Antitank missiles, 80 80mm Rockets or 20 122mm Rockets, Anti-Aircraft missiles, AS-10 Air-to-Surface missiles, UPK-23-250 Gun pod or the GUV-8700 Machine-gun pod.) The Ka-52 has a top speed of 310 kilometers an hour and am operating radius of some 500 kilometers. The main competition for the Ka-52 is the Mi-24, which is simple and effective for the missions it is assigned. Most Mi-24 users have no need for the high tech Ka-52. The eleven ton Mi-24 has a max speed of 295 kilometers an hour and an operating radius of 450 kilometers. Not much different than the Ka-52. Moreover, in the last five years, upgrading M-24s with better electronics and more reliable engines and other components has become a big business. The upgraded Mi-24s have created formidable competition for the Mi-28 and Ka-50/52. Even the Russian armed forces are upgrading their Mi-24s, rather than buying new gunships.

 


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