In all likelihood, the first combat units that the Alligators will receive will be those located in the Primorsky Territory. This is natural, since the helicopter is being produced there in the city of Arsenyev, which means that the maintenance of new rotorcraft will be carried out promptly and relatively cheaply. In addition, it is the Ka-52 that is supposed to be based on the Mistrals, which, as has been officially announced, will be part of the Pacific fleet.
Ka-52 - as a double version of the Ka-50 - was created in the middle of the 1990-s. In 1997, he passed the tests and was recognized by experts of one of the most promising combat vehicles in the world. The helicopter’s armament consists of 12 supersonic Vortex ATGM, 80 unguided X-mmX caliber air-launched missiles, air-to-air missiles, as well as an 80-mm 302 gun with 42 rounds of ammunition.
Everything is fine. But this should have happened at least ten years ago.
In general, the Ka-50, the world's best combat helicopters, had to be the main strike force of army aviation for fifteen years.
To prevent this from happening, at one time even eliminated the army aviation itself, transferring it to the subordination of the Air Force — there simply is no other explanation for this decision. Recently, by the way, army aviation was withdrawn from the Air Force and transferred under the wing of the joint strategic commands. Everything, as it should be, has returned to normal.
In all that concerns Ka-50 and Ka-52, I am a partisan person. My sympathy, of course, on the side of these machines. Various materials about the technical characteristics of "Sharks", "Alligators", their completely meaningless battle with the "Night Hunter", have accumulated a lot - on the Internet is easy to find. I will tell about what I witnessed or heard from the direct participants in the events.
In the sixties of the twentieth century, the military decided to get a flying BMP. Two firms competed - Milevskaya and Kamovskaya. Kamovtsy offered a very interesting project of an helicopter of an infantry fighting vehicle capable of transporting fully armed motorized infantry units, landed on the ground and supported from the air with rocket-machine-gun fire. Milevtsy designed a helicopter with better armor protection and more powerful engines, which, according to their application, could also carry in their womb a detachment of fighters. They won. So there was the famous Mi-24. Only because of his overworking, he could not carry the detachment of fighters - instead of him there was a mechanic in the compartment who, when Afgan happened, was killed just for the company - with the pilot and the navigator. The fact that instead of a BMP flying triple tank turned out, the military did not bother. And how could he be embarrassed if in the seventies such a combat helicopter was not in any NATO army?
In the USA, they became agitated, started warning in time - and rather quickly designed the excellent combat AN-64 Apache. In the USSR they decided to give a decent answer. In the new technical assignment, the Ministry of Defense demanded the creation of a “clean” helicopter-fighter, without any landings there. Ka-50 and Mi-28 came together in a contest. Even before the collapse of the USSR, it became apparent that the Ka-50 surpassed the Mile competitor in almost all the main characteristics. At the same time, the Mi-28 in its configuration strikingly resembled the American "Indian", but the Ka-50 was original in everything.
1990 was almost the peak in the widest "publicity", which a year later went into insane hysteria. But in the ninetieth much still seemed stable. And the idea to show the beauty of Soviet military equipment by means of art cinema. The fact is that at that time, unmaskers of the USSR military-industrial complex raged in journalism, who allegedly simply devoured the entire economy of the country, without producing anything worthwhile. Our military equipment has always been kept secret, so only specialists knew what it really is.
Meanwhile, in addition to the excellent performance characteristics, the Soviet military equipment was simply beautiful. And it was the beauty of a real warrior - a strong defender, and not a terrifying aggressor.
A new American film, Fire Birds, appeared on the video screens, showing what AN-64 is capable of. It was a beautiful movie in every respect. I came to the "Milevskaya" company and offered to help in creating a feature film, where our answer to the Apache would play the main role - a wonderful, as it seemed to me, Mi-28. I will omit all the details of a long conversation with the top officials of the company. I was told that Mi-28 advertising is not needed, and it will go into service, although the competition was formally lost. Arguments that it is not about advertising a specific helicopter, but about advertising the capabilities of the entire national defense-industrial complex, did not take action. As a result, they told me directly: it is better to give the money that was required to be allocated for the picture to those generals and civilian officials, whose decision depended on the adoption of the helicopter. Corruption in its purest form.
Mi-28 in the first flight
The conversation took place twenty years ago, in a country that no longer exists. There are no people who then led the project Mi-28. Someone went into another world, someone retired, someone in other areas of activity. Yes, and bribes, if they were, did not help. Ka-50 officially adopted in the 1995-m, work on the Mi-28 closed. The loser helicopter was reanimated later in the Mi-28H “Night Hunter” project, which at the end of the zero years of the XXI century was put into service without any competition and immediately launched into mass production, guaranteeing a huge state order by our standards. And ka-xnumx shut down.
After the “Milevskaya” firm, I went to the “Kamovskaya”. Its head, Sergey Mikheev, got an idea about creating a movie. The problem was that the helicopter was then still a secret object of the B-80. Nevertheless, the general designer Mikheev assured that he would settle all the formalities and even find some amount to finance the filming.
So came the first in stories national cinema film, which quite frankly advertised military equipment, created in our country, where for the first time it was openly said about the Soviet special forces. "Black Shark" - and the name of the film, and the name of an amazing helicopter.
We will not talk about the artistic merit of the old cinema - it was better to remove it. The film was launched in the USSR in 1991, and was filmed already in the CIS, in the independent state of Uzbekistan in 1992. There was no necessary funding, there was a Gaidar collapse of the ruble. The war began in Tajikistan, and the special forces brigade, which provided all the work of the film crew, flew to extinguish it - which, under the command of Colonel Vladimir Kvachkov, did great. Filming turned, the director Vitaly Lukin had to mount a film of a small material, which managed to shoot in just a few days.
Ka-50, Black Shark
And, nevertheless, everyone who watched the picture could see with their own eyes the truly fantastic capabilities of the Ka-50 helicopter in the mountains. Mikheev himself said that he largely agreed to a real movie tantrum in order to see how his car behaves in the mountain-desert terrain, in conditions of high temperatures and high air rarefaction, as state tests in the mountains did not provide. And the wars were going on exactly there - in Afghanistan, Tajikistan, the Caucasus had already caught fire. For strategists of the General Staff, however, the main theater of operations was still represented by flat Western Europe. It is worth repeating: “Black Shark” on the set of the film of the same name in 1992 showed itself brilliantly in the mountains. And once again it should be recalled: the Ka-50 was accepted into service in the 1995. The plant in Arsenyev was ready to start mass production of machines, but they did not give them money. They accepted for service - they did not allocate funds!
The war in Chechnya, which broke out in 1995, once again confirmed the Afghan truth: there are no military helicopters in Russia that meet the conditions in which our army has been fighting for decades and may be fighting for a long time. Alas, the Black Sharks counter-terrorist operation in the North Caucasus never appeared. It was with great difficulty to test the Ka-50 in combat mountain conditions only at the beginning of the second counter-terrorist operation ...
In January, a unique combat attack group of helicopters consisting of two Ka-2001 and one Ka-50VPNTSU began operating in Chechnya, 29, which is an airborne observation and targeting point. For the first time, it was supposed not only to evaluate the combat capabilities and operational characteristics of the Black Sharks in harsh field conditions and real combat, but also to try out a fundamentally new tactic for using attack helicopters using an air command center. The crew of the Ka-29VPNTSU had, without entering the risk zone, to issue target designation for one-person Ka-50 and control the flight of "sharks" in difficult conditions of mountainous terrain.
For nearly two months, the helicopter group, under the cover of strict secrecy, worked in the interests of the Joint Group of Federal Forces in Chechnya.
The closeness of the work was justified, as the Arab emissaries promised a million dollars to the militant who will bring down the Black Shark. So what did the Ka-50 and the entire combat strike group in Chechnya show?
Helicopters were based alternately at the airfields of Grozny-Severny and in Khankala. The interest in “Black Sharks” on the part of all helicopter pilots was immense. They yearned for a new technique. Therefore, each Ka-50 departure was meticulously evaluated not only by specialists involved in the work, but also by Mi-24 pilots. Ka-50, as a rule, flew, accompanied by covering their Mi-24. Immediately revealed indicative feature. Even a very experienced escort pilot often lost sight of the car he was supposed to guard. Due to their excellent technical characteristics, the Ka-50, when performing energetic spatial maneuvers, quickly left the field of view of the Mi-24 crew, which, in general, was unsafe and threatened to crash cars in the air. It was necessary to sit at the helm of the Mi-24 alternately to those pilots who managed to master the Ka-50 and knew its features.
Tests have shown that the actual firepower of the Black Shark even exceeded that stated. And if we compare the Ka-50 and Mi-24, then the superiority in range and accuracy of shooting at the “sharks” turned out to be more than twofold, although the armament in terms of caliber is the same. From a distance of three and a half kilometers, projectiles fired from the 2А42 cannon literally fell into the top ten. Accordingly, the consumption of ammunition, and therefore the number of targets hit by the “Black Sharks” is significantly higher than that of any other helicopter. Trial launches of Whirlwind missiles were conducted. They fired at the militants' stronghold, a half-destroyed structure on the top of one of the slides. The launch was made under difficult visibility in a cloudy haze. "Whirlwind", like in a movie, flew exactly into the window opening and completely destroyed the target.
The power supply and maneuverability of the “Black Shark” in the conditions of the mountains are illustrated by the following example. At the very beginning of January, 2001-th group from Ka-50 and Mi-24 conducted reconnaissance near the village of Komsomolskoye - the famous refuge of Gelayev's gang. At the bottom of the Komsomolskoye-Pear gorge they identified possible targets: a masked horse-tie and a rest house. The pilots received confirmation that the militants are actively using these objects, and the order: to destroy targets. Ka-50 gave a rocket-gun volley on the house, turning it into dust. On the ground there was a powerful explosion. Later it turned out that the large warehouse of explosives had been detonated. A squall of stones and logs flew towards the helicopter. However, the Ka-50 with a vertical speed of about 30 m / s, like a ball, jumped to a height of one and a half kilometers and did not receive any damage.
After this incident, the pilots and Mi-24, and Mi-8, and Ka-50 unanimously agreed that the Black Shark is the same mountain helicopter that the army has sorely lacked since the Afghan war. How many tragedies could have been avoided if helicopters, like the Ka-50, could spin in tight canyons around their axes, jump over obstacles unexpectedly arising in the mountains, climb up with a speed three times greater than that 28H. The most important result of the work was not only confirmation of the truly excellent characteristics of the Black Shark, but also the discovery of a new, in fact, tactic implemented in a combat strike group.
The helicopter, no matter how beautiful it is, is very vulnerable. And knock down the same "shark" is not difficult. But this is the case if we are guided by the instructions that were written in the middle of the last century.
According to the new tactics, attack helicopters must patrol in a safe area, waiting for the attack command. Having received target designation, they quickly go to the area of attack, deliver their smashing blow and immediately leave the battle zone. The shock grouping should be controlled from a helicopter that performs the functions of a command post, and not by voice, but in telecode mode and character form. The enemy should not hear the negotiations of the pilots and their commanders, then the appearance of the attacking helicopters will be unexpected. Flying KP itself must be equipped with the most modern surveillance systems, receive additional information from satellites, from AWACS type aircraft, from ground-based aircraft manufacturers who also have the support of the above-mentioned aerospace surveillance systems. In this case, the effectiveness of the use of combat helicopters and the safety of their flights increase many times over.
All this, albeit not completely, but was tested ten years ago. The airborne observation and target designation station, Ka-29VPNTS, flew at a height inaccessible to rocket "needles" and kept a closed telecode connection with "sharks". The Ka-50 displays displayed all information about the location, terrain, and coordinates of the target that needed to be destroyed. Ka-50 were equipped with the domestic satellite navigation system "Outline", which allowed to fly on a digital map of the terrain with rounding of the relief almost blindly and reach the target with an accuracy of several meters.
Upon returning to Moscow, the Army Aviation Administration drew up a detailed report on the work of the combat strike group, and especially Ka-50, and made some observations on the group itself and on the Black Shark about 40. However, the pilots who took part in the trials and wrote their report were confident that the real work on the commissioning of new equipment and new tactical techniques really began. And that was the main thing for them!
Alas, all the reports on the work of the Ka-50 in Chechnya and proposals for a more active use of combat strike groups were put on the shelf. During the memorable “peace enforcement” of 08.08.08, the tactics of using helicopters, which were successfully tested in 2001, were not used.
Immediately after completing the tests, the then Chief of the General Staff, Anatoly Kvashnin, was almost forcefully dragged to Rostov-on-Don, to the plant where it was planned to assemble the Mi-28H. It is hard to say how, but the NGSh was convinced that the Ka-50 was a very bad helicopter, but the Night Hunter was what the army needed. The press launched a company to discredit the Black Shark. Even on the pages of one very patriotic newspaper, a “solid” round table entitled “Pilot and Helicopter” was held. The purpose of the table is to fill the Ka-50 with dirt so that there is no light place left.
What are the reproaches of the Black Shark? First of all, the car is single. To this day, all opponents simply fight hysterically, proving that one person cannot control a helicopter and fight at the same time. "Kamovtsam" was reproached with the fact that their car twenty years ago was 80 percent automated and computerized. It was to the credit of Mi-28 that it was controlled and will be controlled by two crew members, and not some kind of automation. But it is clear that the wars of the future are not the battles of human masses and not the fights of individual types of equipment, but the battles of systems and combat complexes. And the sixth generation air fighters are likely to be unmanned aerial vehicles. Not in the United States or in any of the NATO countries, but in the USSR, they took the first step in this direction by trying to create a partly robotic combat helicopter. One detail. The “brain” of the Ka-50 remembered the flight route, and if the pilot lost the ability to control the helicopter, the car would turn around and return to the base automatically. Instead of concentrating all efforts on creating the equipment for the maximum automatic control of the Ka-50 helicopter, the money was given to the usual two-seat “hunter”.
Charter to prove to the military completely obvious truths about the prospects for the development of military helicopter, Sergei Mikheyev agreed to make a double version of the Black Shark - Ka-52 Alligator. And it turned out a miracle machine. Ka-52 embodies so many domestic know-how, which is not even on the best NATO helicopters. The Alligator has the most powerful missile and artillery weapons complex in the world. It has excellent optoelectronic and radar flight and fire control systems. It has the most modern satellite navigation and closed telecode communication channels. He has excellent computer software. He, oddly enough, long before the "Night Hunter" was fully adapted to flying at night and, most importantly, to the conduct of the night war. Mi-28H is still just "learning." Today, the Ka-52 is the only combat helicopter in the world equipped with an optical-electronic protection system against all types of man-portable air defense systems. To bring down the "Stinger" "Alligator" is almost impossible. He has many other highlights.
Hush up and continue to have such a wonderful fighting vehicle in Russia would be simply indecent. However, it is not necessary to build a particularly optimistic illusion about the prospect of the mass entry of the Ka-52 into the combat structure of army aviation. Too good this car ...
Logically, the fleet of combat helicopters of the Russian Army should be single Ka-50 fighters, increasingly turning into flying robots, and command Ka-52 of the same type capable of independent war. The Defense Ministry decided otherwise. The basis of army aviation will be obsolete Mi-28H. “Alligators” will be given some kind of auxiliary role and will be hidden in the very Far East. But the time will come - they will close it in the womb of the Mistral.