The Ka-29s look beautiful. But not commercially available. Sub-optimal and inconvenient for the landing. And they were built back in the USSR. But Russia has nothing else.
Currently, four landing ships are under construction in the Russian Federation. A couple of ships of the improved project 11711 with an increased displacement (very strange and very irrational, I must say) are being built by the Yantar plant. Each of these ships carries two multipurpose (landing) helicopters.
Two more large landing ships of the "usual" project 11711 - "Ivan Gren" and "Pyotr Morgunov" have already been built. But the most important thing is the two UDC 23900 projects “laid down” in the Crimea, with which everything is also very, very “difficult”.
And it is the latter who pose another problem to the country. UDC is of little use without special naval helicopters - landing and attack helicopters. And if we are more or less good with attack helicopters, we have a serial Ka-52K, then with landing helicopters, everything is bad. They simply do not exist.
Those interested in the UDC issue can familiarize themselves with with the corresponding article in the "VPK-Courier" (please note that title and some headings are editorial). The important thing in all this is that the press estimates the composition of the air group of each of the UDC at about 16–20 helicopters.
Thus, if we take the minimum estimate of 16 machines, of which, for example, 12 are the Ka-29, and four are the Ka-52K, then the carrier helicopters of the BDK and both UDCs will require 32 helicopters of the Ka-29 type. And we also need several cars in the Combat Use Center. And you also need to compensate for the losses that are inevitable in any military conflict. It is necessary to teach technicians on some helicopters. But Ka-29s are not produced in our country, the resumption of their production is not planned.
In total, 59 units were built, of which several have already been lost in disasters, for example - “A Russian military helicopter Ka-29 crashed in the Baltic Sea. There were two crew members on board, both were killed. "... People cannot be returned, but the fact that the loss of the helicopter is irreparable is very wrong. But this is exactly the case.
Where is the Ministry of Defense going to get the Ka-29 from?
From here, for example.
These are dismantled vehicles from the half-abandoned ARZ. Surprisingly, they can be restored, and almost all of them. But this is not a solution to the problem of a landing helicopter for fleet... And because the vehicle sent into battle must still be mass-produced.
Link to the entire photo session with ARZ - here.
First, let's look at what helicopters the Navy plans to get and what it can. And then we will formulate the requirements for the landing helicopter and find a solution to this problem.
Helicopters "Ka" - possible options
A huge mass of requirements is imposed on a naval helicopter, which ground-based machines absolutely do not satisfy. This concerns the dimensions and everything that needs to be "crammed" into these dimensions, onboard navigation equipment for flights over a non-oriented surface in any (this is fundamentally) visibility conditions. And so on for any design feature, up to the requirements for the corrosion resistance of materials. About folding blades and (not here in Russia, but "in general") tail booms need not be mentioned, it is common knowledge.
Today the only brand of marine helicopters in the Russian Federation are the Ka helicopters. Although the Russian Helicopters holding is currently pursuing a strange policy of “optimization” of design bureaus, which is unknown how it will end in the end. But so far, the available documentation only allows for shipborne Ka helicopters. Serial shipborne helicopters and their ground modifications are also produced under the same brand.
And it is within the framework of the Kamov design school that a promising helicopter, known in the media as the Lamprey, is being created.
Let's say right away that the hypothetical future version of the Lamprey should be excluded from consideration in the near future.
On the basis of this platform, a more or less good landing helicopter may well turn out. But it will be sometime. It is assumed that the first flight of this helicopter will take place in 2025.
But, first of all, it needs to happen. And, secondly, it is necessary that, according to its results, the helicopter would not have to be completely redone. For this "test of strength" of post-Soviet designers, everything can turn out to be very difficult.
It is worth recalling that 27 years have passed between the first flight of the Ka-8 and its introduction into service. True, it was an anti-submarine helicopter, with sophisticated avionics. Nevertheless, the timing is indicative. Moreover, the Lamprey is also made as an anti-submarine.
Naturally, this does not mean that this program is not needed - on the contrary, it is long overdue. There is simply no need to hope that the landing version of this helicopter will appear on time. Most probably not.
This is a matter of the future so far away that today's students and cadets should be theorizing on this topic.
Now the question is posed in an acute form - how to "overlap" before the appearance of the landing version of the Lamprey?
The answer to this question will have to be looked for in the line of "Kamov" cars. There are simply no other options for today. It is not in China to buy helicopters (although with our organizational approaches it may come to that).
How to make the process of creating a helicopter fast?
The answer is that it needs to be done on the basis of a serial machine, which is still in production. The list of such helicopters is very short.
But before contacting him, it is worthwhile in advance, in advance, to assess the possibility of restarting the production of the Ka-29 according to the same scheme according to which the Il-76 was restarted in Ulyanovsk at one time.
The point is, this is a bad helicopter.
From its progenitor, the Ka-27, the 29th vehicle inherited the layout with fuel tanks under the floor of the cargo compartment. And this limited its height. The height inside the cargo compartment of this helicopter is the same as that of other variants of the Ka-27 - 1300 mm. This is very small. Especially for a soldier in body armor with weapons and equipment.
The helicopter has very sub-optimal landing hatches.
If on the left side there is a wide hatch (120x120 cm), which allows you to quickly leave the helicopter, then on the right side there is only a small door behind the cockpit. And closer to the tail, an even smaller escape hatch.
By the way, the height inside the cargo compartment is very clearly visible.
At the same time, the hatch on the left side opens, like in the Mi-24 - the sash is up, the sash is down, which does not make it possible to fly regularly with an open hatch and a machine gun installed in it. However, this helicopter is also hindered by the placement of missile weapons.
Actually, the way the Ka-29's fuselage is made is quite perplexing.
We look at the photo. The helicopter even retained a compartment in which the anti-submarine helicopter has a descending hydroacoustic station. The "torpedo" compartment also remained ...
Why is he there?
Photoshoot with external detailing Ka-29 is available here.
It also raises the question whether this vehicle has a wide range of missile weapons, including guided ones, for which the helicopter had to be equipped with an aiming system. Soviet helicopters were supposed to operate autonomously, both as landing and attack helicopters - the USSR had no other shipborne helicopters capable of hitting ground targets. Russia has such a helicopter, it is the Ka-52K. And it would be logical to remove non-core tasks from the landing vehicle, if only for the sake of making it cheaper.
But the ability to quickly leave the helicopter with a landing force should be improved.
Airborne operations at the tactical level "easily and naturally" turn into airborne assault operations, when the fighters actually enter the battle at the moment of landing. In such circumstances, the ability to quickly jump out of the "turntable" and let her immediately leave -
can become critical.
And for this, instead of a narrow door on the starboard side, you need to get hold of the same hatch there as on the left. And it is desirable to make both hatches movable, like on the Ka-32. Moreover, the width of the hatches must be ensured as much as possible without touching the supporting elements of the helicopter fuselage.
This is what a quick landing in a real assault looks like through wide doors. Watch from 2:40.
Thus, the Ka-29 does not meet the requirements that would be logical for an amphibious helicopter today. But it has a lot of superfluous and a bunch of "inherited" structural elements of the anti-submarine helicopter.
In addition, restarting its production (even with all the unification with serial helicopters) will take too long.
Thus, it remains to turn to the machines that are already being produced.
At first glance, the Ka-32 comes to mind. This helicopter is in the series. It is even used by foreign military forces, namely South Korea.
Ka-32 Armed Forces of the Republic of Korea during the exercise.
The helicopter has a large payload. And it was created on the basis of the marine Ka-27PS, which is also listed as serial. This means that "crossing" a search and rescue helicopter (in terms of folding propellers, avionics and other features of a naval ship vehicle) and the fuselage, which has eliminated all the "legacy" of an anti-submarine vehicle, is quick and easy.
Moreover, the latest modifications of the Ka-32 have the desired two hatches on the sides. And the technical possibility of placing various antennas on the fuselage outside the fairings, which may well be the electronic warfare means necessary to protect the helicopter.
But here the problem of internal dimensions arises.
The Ka-32 was created on the basis of the Ka-27PS. And the latter is based on a special anti-submarine helicopter, during the creation of which the issue of maximizing the volume of the cargo compartment was not raised. The fuselage width of the Ka-32 is the same as that of the Ka-27 - just over 1400 mm.
Dimensions Ka-27 and Ka-32
Thus, this machine does not have at least an extended nose, like the Ka-27.
At the same time, the problem of fuel tanks under the floor of the cargo compartment remained - they are in the same place. As a result, the dimensions of the cargo compartment of this helicopter are standard "Kamov" ones: width - 1,3 m, height - 1,32 m, length - 4,52. At the same time, closer to the cockpit, the gearbox casing "hangs" from the cockpit ceiling, further reducing the useful volume.
Usually, to show this helicopter from the inside, these photos are laid out.
The reality, however, is sadder.
In order to understand how little space there is in such a helicopter, look at this photo.
These are two rescuers, and they carry much less equipment than the Marines, but they also have to be reclining for elementary observation of the behavior of the load on the suspension.
But if you look closely through the hatch, you can see how much height the structure with a double floor and tanks inside the fuselage "ate".
But in the landing you have to carry a lot of various property, ammunition, weapons such as hand-held and automatic grenade launchers, rocket-propelled flamethrowers, large-caliber machine guns, portable anti-tank systems with a stock of missiles, MANPADS and much more.
Does this helicopter make it possible to provide a full-fledged landing of troops?
A few Marines, twisted to such an extent that by the time they disembark, it will hurt them to move on their feet - that's all.
Let's formulate what we need in the end from a temporary (to "Lamprey") helicopter:
- A helicopter based on the design of the OKB im. "Kamova".
- The maximum volume of the cargo compartment. Why do you need a car with a maximum fuselage width.
- The design, internal volumes and carrying capacity should allow the placement of electronic warfare equipment, infrared traps and other defense equipment on board.
- Due to the presence of naval attack helicopters and the fact that the proposed helicopter is a temporary solution (which means it should not be very expensive), it will be sufficient to equip it with a pair of machine guns on the sides and include air gunners in the crew (as they did and do Americans).
- The helicopter must be based on a serial machine.
Now let's see if we have a suitable base model. And what can we do with it.
Today, the serial shipborne helicopter, which is in serial production and has the largest fuselage, is the Ka-31 AWACS helicopter. Or its reconnaissance modification Ka-31SV (Ka-35), tested in Syria a few years ago.
The internal volumes of these helicopters are occupied by electronic equipment, but they are large enough to try to develop a transport and landing version on the basis of this machine - the width of the fuselage of this helicopter is similar to that of the Ka-29, and the carrying capacity is also high. At the same time, until the middle of the helicopter, the fuselage is clearly wider, the further to the tail.
The fuselage is similar to the Ka-29 - a 120x120 cm hatch on one side, a narrow uncomfortable door on the other.
However, the same cab height problem arises. And here the only option is to transfer the fuel tanks to the outside of the fuselage. Approximately the way it was done on the Mi-8/17.
The weapons bay and tanks "eat up" a lot of internal volumes on Ka helicopters and always due to the height of the cargo compartment.
The hatch height is only 10 cm less than the interior height of the cab. People nearby are clearly visible for scale.
Is this technically possible?
The fuselage of the Ka-31 helicopter is strong enough to carry the large fairing of the retractable nose landing gear legs and the rising landing gear legs themselves, both nose and rear.
It can be seen how many different loads this helicopter can carry along the sides. Instead, there can be just two fuel tanks.
By and large, if you use an ordinary chassis, without a lifting mechanism, then the fuel tanks are completely placed on the sides of the helicopter. In the same place as the Ka-31 landing gear fairings. They will simply be longer.
Moreover, the sides of the Ka-31 have been expanded up to the rear landing gear. This gives additional space to accommodate the onboard avionics of the helicopter, which will not need to be placed in the cargo compartment.
The Ka-31 repeats the "architecture" of the Ka-29 in terms of hatches - one large hatch on the port side and one narrow hinged door behind the cockpit on the starboard side.
The landing helicopter does not need a door, but you can have one window behind the cockpit for firing onboard machine guns. At the same time, the forward fuselage, like the Ka-29 (wider by 500 mm than the Ka-32), will make the placement of air gunners more convenient. The location of the two sliding hatches on the sides can not cause any serious problems. In addition, they can be “built up”, following the lowered cab floor (there will be no tanks under the floor now).
The cabin height of such a helicopter will be at least 1600 mm.
The width is more complicated.
In order to speed up the work, the fuselage must be left as it is. And this implies maintaining its size. But, nevertheless, the design of the Ka-31 fuselage with its extended front part makes it possible to "remove all unnecessary" from the cargo compartment and, at least a little, but free up space along the walls.
The helicopter will be able to easily carry a full-fledged squad of soldiers and have a reserve of a couple of seats, which is the optimal capacity for airborne assault operations, since the principle “one vehicle = one squad” is maintained. And there is no loss of control during disembarkation (due to the division of units into different vehicles).
Moreover, the large carrying capacity of the helicopter, which the landing force with its cargo will not choose even close, allows you to fix the composite armor plate on the bottom of the helicopter (with a smaller mass than steel) and partially protect the personnel from fire from the ground.
Naturally, we are by no means talking about some kind of multi-ton construction.
The fact that a large number of different fairings and casings are attached to the outer skin of the Ka-31 makes it possible to fix all the necessary means of electronic and optoelectronic countermeasures on this machine.
Equipping such helicopters with screen-exhaust devices for protection against missiles with IR-seeker will also not be a problem.
Transportation of goods on an external sling will require a separate study, since the method of transportation should not require a significant share of the volume in the cargo compartment. And the transportation itself on an external sling, without a doubt, is useful for carrying out amphibious operations, as it allows you to transfer artillery, mortars and light vehicles (for example, UAZ vehicles). But this is definitely a solvable problem.
The fact that there are external sponson-like structures on the Ka-31, and all the other design features of this helicopter, indicate that on the basis of its fuselage it is possible to develop an amphibious version, with an enlarged cargo compartment and external fuel tanks, capable of "covering" the needs of the sea infantry in amphibious assault helicopters before the appearance of the Lamprey.
And, unlike the Ka-29, these helicopters will be better suited for their main task, due to the volume of the cargo compartment. And they are more protected thanks to modern defense systems and the ability to carry at least minimal armor protection.
For the technical and flight personnel of the Navy MA, this will be a familiar helicopter, which does not differ fundamentally from those already in service and mastered long ago.
The fact that the Navy is building amphibious ships, the growing tension in world politics and the active actions of the Russian Federation on the world stage indicate that amphibious helicopters may be required very soon. And in considerable quantity.
The proposed helicopter makes it possible to get them quickly and in the required quantity even before the new landing ships enter service.