China has ordered a third batch (nine this time) of Russian Ka-28/31 naval helicopters. The first order, in 1998, was for five Ka-28s and three Ka-31s. A few years after these were delivered, China ordered nine more Ka-28s and nine Ka-31s. These began arriving in China last year.
The Ka-28 entered service in 1982, in the Soviet (later Russian) navy. The 12 ton Ka-28 is an anti-submarine aircraft, while the Ka-31 is equipped with a large radar (that is deployed underneath the helicopter once it is in the air), and acts as an early warning radar aircraft. The Ka-28/31 have a cruising speed of 205 kilometers an hour, and a top speed 270 kilometers an hour. Sorties for both helicopters average 3-4 hours. Both have a useful load of four tons (weapons and additional electronics). The Ka-28s and three Ka-31s are export versions of the more lavishly equipped Ka-27, used by the Russian navy. This family of naval helicopters do not have the finish, reliability or reputation of Western models, but the Ka-27 type costs a lot less, and still gets the job done.