First flown in 1997, the Ka-52 Alligator is the 2-seat version of the Ka-50. The Ka-52 has a side-by-side seat configuration for the pilots, decreasing workload and ease coordination at the cost of a slight increase in fuel consumption and decrease in ammo capacity for the 30mm automatic cannon. Both pilots have full control of the helicopter. The Ka-52 is an all-weather day and night helicopter designed for attack coordination, reconnaissance, target designation, and performing the tasks which other attack choppers are designed for, as well.
The Ka-52 has a day/night TV/thermal sighting system, the ability to accept a laser range-finder and infrared sights, the Thales FLIR system, and has four under-wing and two wingtip hard-points. Besides the 30mm automatic cannon, the Ka-52 can carry S-8 or S-13 rocket pods, 12 Vikhr laser-guided anti-tank missiles (or newer alternatives), R-73 air-to-air missiles, Igla air-to-air missiles, Gsh-23 gun pods, the KH-38 air-to-ground missile, and more.
The Ka-52 has enhanced survivability thanks to armor plating that can withstand 23mm rounds and ejection seats. The rotors are blown off by a special system before the pilots are ejected. It has two TV3-117VMA turbo-shaft engines and is one of the most maneuverable helicopters in the world, thanks to its twin rotor configuration. Although production of the Ka-50 has ceased and the Mi-28 has been accepted as Russia’s main combat helicopter, production of the Ka-52 will continue. Russia’s forces are expected to have a total of 30 Ka-52’s by the end of this year. A naval version of the Ka-52 is being developed for use on the Mistral helicopter carrier.