The crews have a limited number of minutes to get ready. The weather is great, but there are a lot of birds flying around. At the airfield, firetrucks ward them off. The first to take off into the sky are the new Ka-52’s, or as they’re also called, Alligators. Today’s training program involves firing reactive rockets at ground targets. This is rare footage: a view from the Alligator’s cockpit while it is attacking. The flare that you see to the right is the muzzle flash from the helicopter’s 30 mm automatic cannon. Several engagements, and the target is destroyed. Experienced pilot Andrei Volkov personally flew the Alligators from the factory to the airbase, and was the first to score the helicopter’s effectiveness.
“This helicopter is very different. It doesn’t care about what kind of winds blow from which direction, it is very easy to operate, it forgives a lot of mistakes…basically, the technology on the helicopter is very good,” stated Andrei Volkov, the squadron’s deputy commander. In addition, the Alligator is the only helicopter in the world with ejection seats, like on airplanes. If the crew need to eject, the rotor blades of the propellers are blown off. Today, the Ka-52 is not the only helicopter in the sky. The time-tested and very reliable Mi-24, also known as the flying tank, is also participating in the live-firing exercises. Just within the past year, the intensiveness of the flying exercises at this airbase have doubled. Even experienced pilots finally admit that they now get to do what they hoped for when they were enrolled in school for pilots: regular flights that involve carrying out a variety of different tasks.
The traffic at the airbase is as dense as it is in the cities. Take off, landing, reloading, and then back into the air. Recently, younger pilots were given permission to fly the Ka-52. “The pilots who have already flown the Ka-52 eagerly talk about flying the helicopter, and those that haven’t flown yet listen with interest and ask questions. Half of the crews here are already flying these helicopters, while the rest are learning,” stated Sergey Kolesnikov, a flight navigator. This aviation base has a long and rich history. Almost all of the pilots of the older generation have combat experience from participating in peace keeping missions. Younger pilots say that under the guidance of these older pilots, flying is a lot more interesting, and that they have a desire to return to the sky again and again.
More photos here.