Ka-52 "061", Zhukovski, 2009
In the early 1980s, while the comparative tests of the V-80 (Ka-50 prototype) and the Mi-28 were still ongoing, the Kamov design team came up with a proposal to develop a dedicated helicopter to conduct battlefield reconnaissance, provide target designation, support and co-ordinate group attack helicopter operations. However, the economic hardships that hit the nation in the late 1980s hampered the development program of the new type. This prompted Kamov's Designer General to choose a modified version of Ka-50 on which to install the recce and target designation system. The modified "Hokum" required a second crew member to operate the optronics/radar reconnaissance suite. Kamov decided to use side-by-side seating arrangement, due to the verified improvements in co-operation between the crew members. This twin-seat version of the "Hokum" received a designation of Ka-52.
In comparison to the original Ka-50, it has a "softer" nose profile and a radar system with two antennas—mast-mounted for aerial targets and nose-mounted for ground targets. "Samshit" day-and-night TV/thermal sighting system in two spherical turrets (one over the cockpit and the second under the nose) are also present. The Ka-52 retains the side-mounted cannon and six wing-mounted hardpoints of the original Ka-50. In order to keep the weight and performance on par with that of the Ka-50, some trade-offs were introduced to the design; the scale of the armour plating and the capacity of the cannon magazine/feed have been reduced. Despite the introductions, some flight parameters have deteriorated; rate of climb is 8 m/s (vs. 10 m/s), maximum positive G-load is 3.0 G (vs. 3.5 G) and hover ceiling is 3,600 m (vs. 4,000 m). The Ka-52 is approved for day, night and adverse meteorological conditions.
Manufacturing of the first Ka-52 airframe began in mid-1996. Serial production was started in autumn 2008. The 696th Instructor and Research Helicopter Regiment, based at Torzhok Air Base, is operating eight helicopters, in varying degrees of capability and/or modification, for the purpose of ongoing research and development. In December 2010, four new, series-production Kamov Ka-52s were delivered to the Air Base, 344th Centre for Combat Training and Aircrew Conversion.
Serial Ka-52 at Torzhok Air Base
The first phase of the official tests (ГСИ) was completed in December 2008, whereupon permission was given for the production of an experimental batch, for the continuation of phase 2 (ГСИ, including fire tests and the search for targets)
The Ka-52 has completed the state trials. The fourth operationally configured helicopter was taken on strength by the Russian Air Force on 10 February 2011. Under the current State Defense Procurement Plan, Russian Armed Forces will receive 30 helicopters by 2012. A second batch of 36 helicopters will be inducted to service in early 2012.
Mistral class amphibious assault ships, ordered by the Russian Defense Ministry, will contain rotory-wing assets, formed into aviation groups. Each of these groups is planned to include eight attack and eight assault/transport helicopters. The navalised derivative of the Ka-52 Alligator– Ka-52K, has been selected as the new ship-borne attack type for the Russian Naval Aviation (RNA). It will feature folding rotor blades, folding wings and life-support systems for the crew members, who will fly in immersion suits. The fuselage and systems will be given special anti-corrosion treatment and a new fire-control radar will be capable of operating in "Sea Mode" and of supporting anti-ship missiles. RNA will need no fewer then 40 Ka-52Ks, the first of which is tentatively slated to enter squadron service by late 2014 or early 2015, coinciding with the delivery of the first carrier.