The Russian army is buying about 40
Ka-50 helicopter gunships. It has bought a sixteen of them over the last seven
years, and some saw action in Chechnya. The Ka50 is a replacement for the
Mi-24. The Ka-50 weighs 11 tons, 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.
Some of the new Ka-50s will be the Ka-52 variant
(called the Alligator). This version has two seats, so that a commander can be
carried. Normally, the Ka-50 operates with one pilot. Weapons carried include
30mm or 23mm automatic cannon, plus bombs, missiles and rockets.
The Ka-50 is similar to the U.S. AH64 Apache, which
weighs ten tons and can carry about the same amount of weapons. However, the
AH-64 has a lower max speed (300 kilometers an hour) and has a two man crew.
Developed a decade before the Ka-50, there are over a thousand AH-64s in
service. To deal with this, the Ka-52 sells for a third or more less than a
comparable model of the AH-64.