Navy ‘Sniper’: What’s So Special About Russia’s New Ka-52K Katran Attack Chopper

Russian Helicopters corporation has confirmed that the Ka-52K Katran attack helicopter remains the company’s priority project for the Russian Navy, given that it is much better suited to Navy tasks than its Mi-28N and Ka-52 cousins. Military observer Andrei Kotz explains what’s so special about the chopper.
The Ka-52K, the naval variant of the Kamov Ka-52 Aligator assault helicopter, was originally designed for use aboard the Mistral-class amphibious assault ships ordered by the Russian Defense Ministry in 2010. The compact ship-borne chopper design features folding rotor blades and wings, a specialized life-support system (including immersion suits for crew), and advanced new sea-mode fire-control radar with support for anti-ship missiles.

The chopper also has reinforced heavy-duty landing gear, ensuring improved crew survivability in case of an emergency landings. A special anti-corrosion treatment is applied to the fuselage, locking out moisture and sea salt, saving the helicopter from rust and extending its service life. Other improvements over the base Ka-52 include a new ventilation system connected to flight suits to keep crew nice and cool during flight.

At the height of the crisis in Ukraine and amid pressure from its NATO allies, France canceled the Mistral deal in 2015 and sold the ships to Egypt instead. Although Egypt will purchase a full complement of Katrans for its Mistrals, in Russia the unique helicopter has had a more difficult fate, since the Navy does not yet have specialized ships capable of making use of its advanced capabilities.

Moreover, with the Navy confirming earlier this year that it expects to receive two new helicopter-carrying amphibious assault ships before 2025, analysts believe the design most likely to be built is the Priboy-class, a next-gen amphibious assault ship which analysts consider superior to the Mistral. In addition to up to 500 marines and 50 pieces of armor, Priboy-class ships will be able to to carry up to 15 Ka-29 assault transports, Ka-27 anti-sub warfare choppers, and Ka-52K assault helicopters, thus ensuring the unique Katran design a stable future.