Beast in the skies! How Russia’s Ka-52M attack helicopter is being upgraded

The upgrade arose from the experience of using the Ka-52 helicopter in Syria, where the artillery operated mainly at night

Russia’s upgraded Ka-52M attack helicopter will get a new observation system that will allow it to use weapons effectively at night, a Russian defense industry source told the TASS news agency on October 28.

“The combat effectiveness of the Ka-52M helicopter will be significantly improved through an upgraded system that will enhance its ability to use weapons at night. The range of the thermal imaging channel of target detection and identification has been doubled,” the unnamed source said.

According to the same source, the upgrade resulted from the experience of using the Ka-52 helicopter in Syria, where the artillery operated mainly at night.

In Syria, Russian Ka-52 attack helicopters used the 9K121 Vikhr anti-tank guided missile with a range of up to eight kilometers. A TASS source said the new upgrade, which will also include an improved communications station, will boost the missile’s range.

The Vikhr is armed with a 12 kg high-explosive anti-tank warhead capable of penetrating 1,000 rolls of homogeneous armor behind explosive reactive armor.

“Work is underway to install a Safar station and extend the range of Vikhr missiles to 10 km,” the source said.

In September, TASS revealed that the Russian military had successfully tested the upgraded Ka-52M attack helicopter in Ukraine.

The upgrade of the Ka-52M will not be limited to weapons, communications and tracking systems. As part of the upgrade, the helicopter will also get a new phased array radar, a new active protection system, a new battlefield command and control system, stronger undercarriage wheels and improved cockpit ergonomics.

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The improved attack helicopter is expected to enter service with the Russian military in the near future. In August, the Russian Ministry of Defense signed a contract with a defense manufacturer at the Army 2022 international arms exhibition to supply the military with upgraded Ka-52M helicopters.

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