Monday, 23 January 2017

A View Of Russian Helicopters In Their Roles And Capacities

In modern day warfare close air support, reconnaissance, anti-tank role ,forward assault on enemy troops and electronic warfare play a very significant role in the battlefield by providing the armoured division and the infantry a significant scope to win over the enemy troops and armoured formations. All these roles can be played by helicopter gunships tailored for the assigned roles. India traditionally has been a major user of Russian helicopter gunships for the role of assault and logistics support. Out of the all helicopter gunships and logistics support helicopters used by Indian defence forces Russian helicopters make up the majority of the percentage of the foreign helicopters that are used. Here is an account of Russian gunships and helicopters of logistic support that are used by India and those that can be used by India in the future through joint ventures and modifications suited for Indian Air Force and Indian Army and other paramilitary forces.

                                                                                    Mil Mi 8

                                                                         MiL Mi8
Mil Mi-8 is a twin-engined helicopter designed by the erstwhile Soviet Union, but now produced by Russia. It can perform the roles of a transport helicopter, airborne command post, armed gunship, and reconnaissance platform. It is the world's most-produced helicopters that is used by over 50 countries. It is the third most common operational military aircraft in the world as of 2015. This was the first helicopter of Soviet Union to have two turbine engines. Sergei Isotov Design Bureau design the engines. Initially it was introduced as VIP transport and passenger transport ,but, in 1967 it was introduced into Soviet Air Force for rapid movement of troops to and from the battlefield areas. There are various version of Mi-8 out of which Mi-8T can carry 24 troops along being armed with rockets and anti-tank missiles. Mi-17 which is the export version is employed by 20 countries across the world also has improved armour plating for crew protection. India uses more than 400 units of Mi-8 and its variant in the form of Mi 17 and Mi 17 V5 in her armed forces.

                                                                  Mi8 In Indian Defence

Mi-8 has a maximum speed of 260 kmph, range of 610 kms, ferry range of 960 kms, service ceiling 4500 meters. It has an empty weight of 7260 kgs and maximum take off weight of 13000 kgs.

MiL Mi 24

                                                                               Mil Mi24

Mil Mi24 is a large helicopter with attack and low troop carrying capacity of eight personnel. It is produced by Mil Moscow Helicopter Plant. This helicopter is being operated since 1972 by erstwhile Soviet Airforce. The usage of attack helicopters by US army during Vietnam war to their advantage convinced USSR of the advantages of ground support by armed helicopter and initiated the development of Mil 24. It got accepted into USSR forces in 1972. Mi-24 could be tasked with close air support for ground troops, anti-tank operations. Its fuselage could resist 12.7 mm rounds from all angles and the titanium rotor blades could also resist 12.7 mm rounds. It has a ballistic resistant wind screen and the cockpit is suited to nuclear , biological and chemical (NBC) warfare. This is one of the most iconic helicopters ever produced which saw combat operations throughout 1970 through to the 1990s and even exists in defence forces of different countries Mil Mi 28 Havoc is a version of gunship which has evolved from Mil Mi 24. Mil Mi 24 can travel at a maximum speed of 335 kmph with the range of 450 km and having highest altitude of 4900 meters. Empty weight of this gunship is 8500 kgs having a fully loaded capacity of 12000 kgs.

                                                                           Mil Mi28

                                                                            Mil Mi28

Mi 28 is all-weather, day-night attack helicopter and is better optimized than the Mil Mi-24. Mil Mi 28 Havoc is the standard attack helicopter for Russian army and air force. Mi 28 Havoc features an elongated nose which is meant for electronic suite. The fully armour framed cockpit is capable of handling small arms fire upto 14.5 mm. The weapons officer at the back of the pilot has a helmet mounted display for quick and smart deploying of missiles. Two Klimov turboshaft engines of 2200 horsepower powers the gunship. As a feature for rescuing downed airmen and personnel carrying capacity in small numbers the gunship has a compartment to carry three persons. The gunship has chin mounted 30 mm Shipunov auto cannon with an effective range of 2500 meters for aerial and 1500 meters for ground targets and four hardpoints to carry a variety of weapons in the form of anti-tank missiles, rocket pods and gun pods.

Mil Mi 28 N gunship has night fighting capability and is widely accepted by different countries. Mi-28N has improved tor vision and an aiming device under the nose along with a TV camera and FLIR. The advantages of the Mi-28N, like all-weather action ability, lower cost, and similarity to the Mi-24, have become important. The most significant feature is a radar above the main rotor a feature similar to that of the American AH-64D Apache Longbow.

                                                                               Mil Mi28N

Iraqi Mi 28 have been used against battle of ISIS and reportedly had participated in the battle of Ramadi in November 2015.

Mil 28 gunship has a maximum speed of 320 kmph, with a range of 435 km , combat radius of 200 kms , ferry range of 1105 kms and has service ceiling of 4950 meters. It has an empty weight of 7890 kg and maximum take off weight of 11700 kg.

Russia is the major operator of the gunship with countries like Iraq and Algeria also opting to operate with Mil Mi 28 gunship. Currently the gunship is operating in the Syrian war.

                                                               Mil Mi 35 Hind

                                                                         Mil Mi35 Hind

Mi 35 is a heavily upgraded version of Mi 24 gunship and is mainly regarded as the export designation of Mi 24V. It is regarded as a multirole helicopter which retains the two-seat crew arrangement and the passenger cabin of the original Mi-24 with weapons instilled externally underneath wingstubs . Mi-35 has upgraded avionics and navigation along with a digital cockpit for both the pilot and the weapons officer. The helicopter is fitted with a thermal imaging device, laser rangefinder, and improved target sighting systems. The helicopter has received reinforcement of its structure internally for better survivability during battle. Survivability on the battle field is improved through a modern Radar Warning Receiver (RWR), IR jammer, IR suppression system at the engine exhaust vents, cockpit and critical components armoring, and a chaff/flare dispenser. It has two Klimov VK-2500 series turboshafts engines with reduced noise levels and maintenance . It can reach a maximum speed reaches 310 kmh and a maximum operational ceiling of 5,400 meters and has an ferry range of 1,000 kilometers with a combat radius of 460 kilometers. All-weather and day-night operational capabilities allows the Mi-35 to function in nearly any battlefield environment. Upgraded equipment includes the OPS-24N observation-sight system and support for non-Russian communications kits. Mi-35 has improved sensors for low-light-level operation.
                                                                             OPS 24N

Mi-35 can carry up to eight fully-equipped combat troops in its cabin area behind the cockpit. This space can be used to carry cargo loads up to 1,500 kgs while additional 2,400 kilograms to be carried externally on a sling system. The helicopter can also serve as a MEDEVAC platform for ferrying wounded and associated medical staff.

Mi-35 system can boast of an impressive array of weaponry. It can carry up to eight Anti-Tank Guided Missiles (ATGMs) across the four presented underwing hardpoints. Rocket loads can be either 80mm S-8 series or 122mm S-13 series rockets used alongside or in place of the missile armament. A twin-barreled 23mm cannon is mounted in the chin turret and 23mm gun pods can also be carried under the wingstubs exchangeably with the missiles or rockets.

                                                            S13 122mm Rocket POD

The Mi-35 has been inducted into the armies of Russia ,India, Azerbaijan, Iraq, Venezeula and Brazil airforce .

India is donating four Mi-35s to Afghanistan with three already transferred in January 2016. According to General John Campbell, commander of US forces in Afghanistan the three Mi-35s made a big difference in the offensive against militants.

Mi Mil 26
                                                                                       Mil Mi26

Since its induction into service with the Soviet Air Force Mi-26 (NATO codename of "Halo") has been the largest and most powerful helicopter in the world. It first flew on 14 December 1977 and was inducted in Soviet military and commercial service by the year 1985. The Mi-26 has eight-bladed main rotor driven by a pair of Lotarev powerplants which enabled the helicopter to become a proven performer in both military and civilian roles participating effectively in humanitarian relief efforts through its efficient capabilities.The Mi-26 is powered by twin Lotarev D-136 series turboshaft engines having 11,400 horsepower each . This massive aerial workhorse can reach speeds up to 295 kmph. It has an empty weight of 28,200 kgs and maximum takeoff weight of 56,000 kgs. It has a range of 1920 kms with a service ceiling of 4600 meters. The cargo area is suited to 90 infantry soldiers with full gear, 60 medical litters with staff or up 20,000 kgs of cargo.

Mi 26 is suited to carry heavy construction equipment to areas which are rugged and short take-off and landing (STOL) is required. The standard operating crew for the Mi-26 is five having two pilots, a flight engineer or loadmaster, dedicated navigator, and a flight technician. The Mi-26 has evolved in a variety of dedicated and specialized forms. These include the MEDEVAC version, passenger cum cargo types, an airborne heavy-lift crane version and a Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) platform. There has also been a dedicated fire-fighting platform of Mi 26. Beyond the militarized versions of the Mi-26, civilian variants are also in service. Since its inception about 300 Mi-26 helicopters have been produced. The Mi-26 was designed by engineers at Mil Moscow Helicopter Plant in Moscow, Russia. More recently, Chinese Mi-26s have taken part in disaster relief operations in quake-effected regions of China.
                                               Mi26 Airlifting Boeing Ch 47 Chinook Fuselage

Mi 26 exceeds in quite a few parameters over Boeing Ch 47 Chinook which has a smaller diameter and better service ceiling that enables Chinook to takeoff from relatively space crunched hilly crevasses at higher heights ,but Mi 26 can play exceptionally vital role during wartime by carrying troops in larger numbers than Chinook, in MEDEVAC role and carry large cargo and armoured vehicle transport in better capacity than Chinook. For example in 2002 and 2009 Mi 26 helped in evacuation of 11 tonne fuselages of Boeing Ch47 Chinook helicopters that had crashed in Afganistan. In the same year Mi 26 helped in transportation of a Tu-134 passenger plane, and there are numerous other such examples as well.

For improving the performance of Mi26 Russian engine company Avidvigatel has already developed an engine with better efficiency in terms of lesser fuel consumption by eighteen percent but with better capacity generating 14500 horsepower. The engine is in testing phase and will power Mi 26 helicopters in near future.

                                                            Mi 26 Airlifting Tu 134 Passenger Jet

Mi 26 in MEDEVAC Version                                                  Mi 26 Unloading a Military Truck

India should opt for more of Mi 26 than the existing three units out of which only one remains operational and can even go for co-production of these copter for domestic roles like NDRF operations and civil roles in foreign countries. Twelve numbers of Mi26 for defence related roles ( six each for army and air force) and another six for roles like NDRF operations for large scale nationwide natural disasters can be absorbed by India. Bifurcated role will render lesser operation fatigue on the rotorcrafts. It is better to be prepared than to be underprepared & cut a sorry figure in the face of a monumental crisis and with only one existing rotor craft of the category of Mi 26 Indian forces apparently are in dire straits needing multiple copters of this category to carry out the task of heaviest of lifting on the battle field and other similar peacetime accidents and crisis.

                                                          Mil Mi 26 Unloading Armoured Vehicle
                                                         Mil Mi 17

                                                    Weaponized    Mil Mi 17 V5
This is a medium-lift transport helicopter which achieved its first flight in 1975 and was introduced in 1981. The Mi-17 "Hip" model was based on Mi-8M/MT variant of the Soviet/Russian military .It was developed as an export variant and has been in use in over twenty nations worldwide. This helicopter's production has been ongoing since 1977 totaling around 12,000 units . The production is shared between Mil Moscow Helicopter Plant and Kazan Helicopter Plant. The cockpit area has been given improved protection through additional armoring and larger Klimov TV3-117VM turboshaft engines have enabled Mi-17 to be outfitted for the gunship role. Multi-shot rocket pods fitted along wingstub mountings can prepare it for battle role. Mi 17 has other versions that have been equipped for search and rescue (SAR), MEDEVAC, VIP/general passenger transport, and airborne Command Post (CP) service, high-altitude, electronic warfare (EW) . It has seen its fair share of operations over active combat zones ranging from Cambodia , India/Pakistan , Macedonia, and Sri Lanka. Mi-17s were used by both warring sides of the Libyan Civil War (2011) and the current Afghan Air Force relies heavily on its Mi-17 fleet. It is also operated by Argentina and Thailand. China began local license production of the Mi-17 during May of 2008 ,and despite its Cold War-era roots, the Mi-17 is very much in play today with several nations still considering ordering it for their own usage. India uses more than 400 units of this helicopter in her armed forces and additional 48 units have been ordered recently. Recently decision was taken by Indian Ministry Of Defence to incorporate Indian Mi 17 V5 copters with electronic warfare suite , radar warning receiver , missile approach warning system, counter measure dispensing system and laser warning receiver. Mi 17 seems to be playing a very important role in the Indian armed forces and will be the main workhorse helicopter of the India defence for various roles.
                                             Mi 17 V5 With Anti-Tank Missile PODS

A recent improvement of the engine section being fitted with two VK-2500PS turboshaft each having 2400 horse power providing maximum speed of 280 kmph with range of 800 kms and service ceiling of 6500 meters has improved the performance parameters of Mi 17 series of helicopters significantly enabling it to carry out high altitude transport and assault missions. The recent improvement has enabled Mi 17 to take off with with an improved maximum take off weight of 13500 kgs with capability to flawless engine initiation at temperatures ranging from -40 degrees celcius at an altitude of 6000 meters to +40 degrees celcius on the plains. Mi 17 has the capacity to carry 24 troops or 4000 kgs of cargo internally.

The Mi-17-1M is Mi 17's high-altitude performance equivalent. The Mi-17-1VA serves in the airborne hospital role . The Mi-17M was the base model for Mi-17V-5. New avionics greeted the Mi-7KF. Night operations support was brought to the Mi-17N. General passenger hauling service was through the Mi-17P variant. The Mi-17S serves as a VIP passenger model.

Mi17 can be outfitted for gunship/armed transport role. Its armament consists of Shturm-V Missiles , S-8 rockets and pods , 23mm cannon pods, and 7.62mm gun pods across underwing hardpoints when fitted with wingstubs, 7.62mm machine guns at doors and / or rear of aircraft, a nose machine gun can also be fitted.

                                                    Kamov Ka 27 Helix

                                                      Kamov Ka 27 Helix
The Kamov Ka-27 Helix naval is predominantly used to fulfill the Anti-Ship (AS) role by launching torpedoes but were eventually used to in other roles as needed including search and rescue (SAR), anti-submarine warfare (ASW), and as marine transport. Armament for Ka 27 had been one torpedo , dispensable depth charges and sonobouys based upon operational requirements.Ka-27 has the unique two counter-rotating three-bladed main rotors, one seated atop the other . Ka 27 Helix is crewed by three designated personnel - the pilot, the tactical coordinator, and an anti-surface weapons coordinator. It has passenger carrying capacity of sixteen passengers. Ka-29TB a modified version of Ka-27 Helix is meant for the transport role. Ka-27 was first flown on 24 December 1973 and was formally introduced into USSR navy in 1982 and serves till today. Ka 27 has also served Ukranian and Indian navy.

Ka-27 is powered by two Isotov TV3-117V turboshaft engines having 2,230 horsepower each and has a maximum speed of 270 kmph, range of 980 kms, and a service ceiling of 5000 meters. It has an empty weight of 6500 kgs and maximum take off weight of 12000 kgs.

There are several versions of Ka 27 which are as follows:

i) Ka-31 is a version serves as the airborne early warning (AEW) role.

ii) Ka-27PL or Helix-A was the ASW version.

iii) Ka-27PS or Helix-D was a dedicated SAR model

iv) Ka-27PV was the armed form of Helix-D .

v) Ka-29TB was as an assault transport copter with seating for sixteen passengers.

vi) A civilian market form became the Ka-32.

Ka-27 was used by , India, China, Algeria, Syria, Portugal ,Ukraine, former Yugoslavia, Vietnam, and South Korea. Civilian versions have been operating in Switzerland, Brazil, Japan, Portugal and Canada.

                                        Kamov Ka-31

                                                                 Kamov Ka 31
The E-801E "Oko" radar system is fitted under the fuselage of Ka 31 and is laid flat against it only to be lowered when used during flight, which in turn, necessitates the landing gear to be raised when in flight. The Oko system can track targets of the size of conventional fighter up to 150 kilometers away in day or night, it has 360 degrees of coverage, and can track 30-40 targets simultaneously. First flight of Ka -31 is recorded in 1987. Approximately 35 to 40 have been built till date. The Ka-31 is crewed by three standard operating personnel including a pilot and co-pilot and up to three mission specialists. This copter is operated by Indian Navy as well as the Chinese Navy.

India also operates Ka 31 which has certain additions to its version of Ka 31. Indian Ka 31 has Abris GPS system with option to deploy differential GPS references, navigational equipment for digital terrain maps, ground-proximity warning, obstacle approach warning, auto-navigation of pre-programmed routes, flight stabilization, information concerning helicopter's tactical situation, capability of auto-homing and landing on aircraft carrier.

Ka 31 has two Isotov TV3-117VMAR turboshaft engines of 2217 horsepower each enabling maximum speed of 250 kmph, range of 600 kms, and service ceiling of 3500 meters.

                                      Kamov Ka 50
                                                                  Kamov Ka 50

Ka-50 has more than 35% of its structure made of composite materials.

Power is derived from twin Klimov TV3-117VK turboshaft engines of 2,226 horsepower each. The power of the engines does not need to be used to power a tail rotor assembly and is used for optimized performance of the centrally-located twin main rotors. Ka 50 is capable of a top speed of 315 kmph, maximum combat radius of 470 kms, ferry range of 1160 kms, maximum service ceiling of up to 5500 meters and maximum rate-of-climb nearing 12 meters per second. Ka-50 uses a single crew member to command all of the onboard systems. It provides the pilot a full suite of automated systems to fly the helicopter and actively operate in battle field conditions.

Wingtip bulges are visible and field the aircraft's defensive anti-missile suite in the form of chaff and flare dispensers. Armor is such that all major components, systems and pilot are protected from weapon calibers ranging up to 20mm and 23mm. IR-suppressed exhausts and self-sealing fuel tanks assist Ka 50 in surviving the modern battlefield, important to consider when this type of aircraft is required to operate at low altitudes in hot zones. Engines are fitted high against the fuselage in an effort to keep the helicopter's critical power plant system as far away from enemy ground fire as possible.

Ka 50 has a variety of armaments that can be attached to it as mission payload.

One 30mm Shipunov 2A42 cannon is fitted along the starboard side of the fuselage. Depending on mission-specific requirements ordnance can include the following:

i) Twelve AT-16 Vikhr-M Laser-Guided Air-to-Surface Anti-Tank Missiles.

ii) Twelve AS-12 "Kegler" air-to-surface missiles.

iii) Four Vympel R-73 (AA-11 "Archer") short-range air-to-air missiles.

iV) Four S-8 HE / Munitions-Dispensing Rocket Pods (80 total rockets)

v) Four S-13 munitions-dispensing rocket pods.

vi) Four 23mm Gun Pods

vi) Four 100lb bombs

vii) Fuel Tanks.

                                                         S13 Rocket POD

S8 80 mm Rocket POD On The Right With Vikh M Rocket On The Left

Survivability of the crew of Ka-50 is given a major boost by incorporation of an ejection system in the form of K-37 ejection seat which is very uncommon in attack helicopters.
Ka 37 Ejection Seat

The ejection process begins by the escapement of the twin main rotors ejected via controlled explosives and then K-37 ejection comes into play by the ejection of the pilot a short moment later. This sets K 50 apart from any other attack helicopter in this category.

Amongst ordnance K 50 carries anti-tank air-to-surface missiles and anti-aircraft air-to-air missiles mounted on four external hardpoints on port and starboard wingstubs. AT-16 Vikhr-M laser-guided air-to-surface anti-tank missile is the main weapon of the Ka-50 in the anti-tank hunting role. The missile has an operational range of nearly eight kilometers with the capability of armour penetration reaching speeds upto mach 1.8. The Ka-50, and its two-seat variant, the Ka-52, both use this missile system.

Ka-50 also carries weaponry including munition-dispensing rocket pods featuring various types of warheads. The gunship can also carry external fuel pods to increase operational range, drop bombs and gun pods as required. Ka-50 has a single 30mm Shipunov 2A42 cannon for firing Armor-Piercing (AP) or high-explosive fragmentation (HE-FRAG) ammunition which is fitted along the starboard side of the fuselage just below the cockpit and thus places it closer to the center of gravity for optimal balance. The cannon has a semi-rigid installation that results in far less recoil thrust and results increased accuracy. This integration with the helicopter's weapon system enables quicker response times than Hughes Apache 30mm chin-mounted chain gun system.
                                              Vikhr M Rocket With Rocket POD

The Ka-50N and Ka-50Sh variants are fitted with FLIR and electro-optic sights which are Russian or French-originated avionics. With open architecture and lengthening & strengthening of the retractable wheel assembly Ka 50's default capacity will enable it to carry one air launched Brahmos missile on the undercarriage of the helicopter.

Ka-50 participated in operational combat for in December 2000 in Chechnya and proved a capable attack system over forested and rugged mountain terrain. On 9-January 2001 one Ka 50 accompanied by one Mi 24 destroyed with S8 rockets destroyed an ammunition warehouse. On 6-February 2001 in the forested mountain area of Tsentoroj two Ka 50 participated in a mission in which a fortified rebel insurgent camp was destroyed from a distance of 3 kms with 9k11 Vikhr guided missiles. On February 2001 two Ka 50 participated in a hunting mission to destroy eight targets under very hostile conditions.

                                               Kamov Ka-52 Alligator

                                                                        Kamov Ka 52 Alligator

The Ka-52 "Alligator" sports a twin-seating side-by-side cockpit arrangement and is designated as an all-weather, day/night capable attack gunship.

Ka-52 sports a redesigned forward fuselage to accommodate space for the wider two-seat cockpit and the radome fitted under the newly designed nose cone . Ka 52 retains up to 85% of the Ka-50's original airframe. This newly designed nose cone helps Ka-52 to track and locate targets to supporting units. Other features include a pair of turreted day/night FLIR and TV sighting systems (one fitted under the nose and the other above the cockpit ), a mast-mounted radar antenna, Thales-based avionics, IR sensor, laser rangefinder and helmet-mounted sights . Addition of the second crew member are two complete new aspects of Ka-52. This gunship still retains all of the weapons and lethality of the base gunship Ka-50.

Kamov Ka-52 is designed to be an armed reconnaissance and combat platform capable of performing roles of close-air-support (CAS), assault, armed patrolling and convoy protection. Ka 52 has twin-seat arrangement with control redundancy which enables both the pilots to manage the flight control aspects of the helicopter. The avionics suite is has a high percentage of automation reducing crew workload. Special attention has been given to reduce maintenance and repair times by providing for better accessibility of key systems and components. Ka 52 is driven by two Klimov VK-2500

series turboshaft engines which support "hot-and-high" operations as well as cold weather operations. It is capable of a maximum speed of 300 kmh , combat radius of 470 kms with operational service ceiling of 6000 meters (approx).

The Ka-52K is naval form of the Ka-52 under development. The design includes a folding main rotor head with anti-corrosion coating and various other naval-friendly additions to help the helicopter operate over ocean.

                         Advantage India With Kamov KA 52

India should opt for Kamov Ka 52 in its original form or with open architecture to include avionics and armaments suited to IAF and needs of Indian army. Ka 52 has specifications similar to AH-64 Apache and costs a lot lesser than the conventionally rotored AH-64 Apache. Estimated cost of AH-64 Apache is USD 65 million per unit while estimated per unit cost of Ka 52 is half of Apache Ah64. As India has already committed to buy 22 numbers of AH-64 Apache a mix of AH-64 Apache and Kamov Ka 52 will do justice to the increasing need of helicopters in the Indian armed forces. In fact since Ka 52 comes at half the price of Ah-64 Apache. India can opt for suitable avionics and armaments to be incorporated in Ka 52 and have the gunship of required quality with double the number than the number of AH-64 Apache .

Apache AH-64 Apache has notorious record of maintenance issues with Boeing charging 33.3 to nearly 177500 percent for routine spare parts. Despite few successes against moderately equipped adversaries Apache gunship had substantial problem with night vision equipment, flying the planned flight-hours during wartime and very surprisingly had survivability issues against projectiles like RPG , SA-7 missile, and casualties due to accidents as opposed to venerable reputation of Apache as a very reliable gunship produced by US. Apache had to be grounded multiple times in the past and went on record to be available one-fifth of the planned flight-hours during a war and had serious issues with frequent requirement of spares of multiple gunships in enormous quantities giving arise to serious maintenance issues which prompted US army to unofficially ground the AH-64 Apache worldwide.

According to recent development in a radar upgrade was due for KA 52K (Naval Ka 52) in the form of an AESA radar from KRET of Russia. As claimed by KRET this AESA radar operates in millimetric wavelength for effective ground targeting as well as centimetric wavelength for detecting naval targets at a distance of 180 kms. The radar is also capable of detecting low altitude cruise missiles, and unmanned aerial vehicles cuing the onboard electro-optical devices and missiles about the detected targets. The radar is capable of detecting ground moving target acquisition and tracking modes in low visibility conditions owing to fog, dust and night operations. Ka 52 can achieve an operational altitude of 6000 meters. A further improved engine similar to VK-500 with additional auxiliary power unit with increased usage of composites will improve its overall performance. Adding to the advantage, the tandem contra rotating rotors by default produce far lesser sound than conventional rotor placement design as found in AH-64 Apache helicopters. Owing to the belongingness to heavier category of copters with the possibility to get deployed in deep penetration strike roles in support of the forward troops the range of Ka 52 can be significantly improved to 1000 kms with additional drop tanks. So with the capability to effectively field both light (HAL LCH) and heavy category of helicopter gunships (in the form of KA 52) India will be able to operate both HAL LCH with lesser ordnance and Ka 52 with higher ordnance thus providing enormous edge over the adversary in terms of destructive capabilities by working in tandem with each other. While HAL's LCH , being a smaller gunship has lesser probability of getting detected from a long range , it is also capable of achieving an altitude of 6500 meters. The targets obtained by LCH carrying lesser ordnance can be relayed to KA 52 at a lower altitude with higher ordnance which can then launch rockets and missiles from a safe distance owing to the cuing provided by HAL's LCH and thus act as a significant force multiplier on the battlefield. With induction of Kamov KA 52 Indian Army and Air force has great potential to become one of the most potent and feared aerial assault forces on the battle field thus shredding the need for additional types of heavy helicopter gunships for anti-tank, CAS and other assault roles.

                                                    Kamov KA 52 K The Naval Ka 50

Owing to the developments incorporated in Ka 52K, which is a naval version of Ka 52 it can serve exceedingly well from aircraft carriers and ships as well.

Due to the retainment of the capacity of Ka 50 the base model for Ka 52 & Ka 52K, with a few modifications of the wheel assembly (as mentioned previously) both Ka 52 and Ka 52K will be able to carry one mini Brahmos on its under carriage. Thus Ka 52K will provide a better reach than a ship launch of the missile enabling the launching ship to remain at safer distance than the enemy ship.

                                             Kamov Ka 226

                                                             Kamov Ka 226T

Ka 226 is a utility helicopter which does not feature a conventional cabin but allows for customized utility of the cabin space for varied accommodations and equipment configuration. India intends to produce the Kamov 226T version of the copter. This copter is powered by Turbomeca Arrius 2G1 engines of France each having 670 horse power providing high and hot capability at high altitudes as well as in the high temperature regions. Its cockpit is laden with multifunctional displays, automatic control and navigation system along with a radar at the front. It can be customized for helicopter searchlight, sling and with medical modules in MADEVAC role. Additional external fuel tanks can be fitted as well. This copter can also adopted for surveillance, reconnaissance, search & rescue and transportation of troops. Indian Govt intends to initiate an Indo-Russian joint venture between Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) of India and Rostec of Russia to produce 200 of these helicopters under "Make In India' initiative for domestic consumption and export as well. This helicopter has a maximum speed of 250 kmph, range of 600 kms, service ceiling of 6200 meters. It can carry cargo of 1050 kgs internally and 1100 kgs on external sling.

                                      Kazan Ansat

                                                                 Kazan Ansat

Ansat a lightweight helicopter platform produced by Kazan Helicopters of Russia which achieved first flight on August 17th, 1999. It features several variations based on the base design and is likely to generate considerable interest in the world market in medium-lift utility types category as many in this category are meeting the end of their service lives around world over. Ansat cockpit features a crew of two seated side-by-side. The middle section of the fuselage is reserved for ten passengers. Additionally, the cabin can be configured for various roles - both civilian and military . Ansat is powered by two Pratt & Whitney Canada PW2-7K turboshafts generating up to 630 horsepower each. The standard Ansat helicopter has a maximum speed of 275 kmph, range is around 515 kms with a service ceiling of 4800 meters and rate-of-climb nearing 21.5 m/sec. The Ansat-U is a military helicopter trainer that features dual-control system for training purpose and has been accepted by the Russian Air Force as its next helicopter trainer platform. The "Ansat-M" is a MEDEVAC platform designed specifically for accommodating two patient litters, medical staff and related mission equipment. The "Ansat-UM" is a militarized MEDEVAC and can accommodate up to four patient litters. Ansat-2RC is a vastly modified two-seat light attack helicopter model based on the Ansat internal workings. The crew are seated in stepped cockpits and this has resulted in a slimmer fuselage and thinner forward profile. Its standard armament includes a fixed-position 12.7 mm heavy machine gun along the starboard side of the fuselage. Optional armament can be affixed along two short wingstubs with two hardpoints each. The helicopter is a bright prospect for carrying various various Russian and Western origin ordnance products ranging from rocket pods, cannon pods , homing/guided missiles and conventional drop bombs.

                                           Kamov Ka 60

                                                                    Kamov Ka 60

Kamov Ka 60 is a helicopter intended for aerial reconnaissance , transportation of troops, electronic warfare, special operations and light-transport missions. Intended characteristics are maximum takeoff weight 6500 kgs, maximum speed approximately 310 kmph, operational range 770 kms and service ceiling of 5700 meters. A civil variant Ka 62 is also being planned.

Of all the helicopters mentioned above Kamov Ka 52 , Mil Mi 17 V5, Mil Mi 26 seems to be the most suited helicopters for operating in India defence forces. With the battle field at highest altitude and year long vigilance at height of Siachen and other great heights of the Himalayas spread throughout Jammu and Kashmir and complicated by regular cease fire violation of Pakistani troops and transgression of Chinese troops along the Chinese border areas Kamov Ka 52 seems to be the most suited helicopter gunship to carryout assault operations with missiles from height of 6000 meters with capability to launch ammunition of huge quantity. These heavy helicopter gunships will act as force multiplier with HAL LCH , IAF Sukhoi and other fighter jets to deter and retard any progress and anti-India designs of enemy troops thereby distributing the workload amongst available Indian aerial assault platforms. In support of these helicopters which are dediated gunships troops , heavy vehicles and armoured vehicles and battle tanks can be carried to the camps at war front by Mi 26 heavy lift helicopters under the escort of modern Mi 17 V5 helicopter which also has capability to carry troops in full preparation. Apart from Mi 26, upgraded Mi 8 and Mi 35 Hind will also come into the scenario under the escort of Mi 17 V5 to carry troops to the war front with the required protection of electronic warfare and capability to launch missiles on the adversary. Naval Kamov Ka 52K and Ka 31 which can operate from aircraft carriers will also aide in reconnaissance and assault missions over the ocean to track submarines and destroy ships.

               Our Soldiers On Vigil At Siachen Heights Which Were Captured After Greatest Of Efforts And Sacrifice

Tiger Hill Captured Back From Pakistani Intruders During Kargil War After Huge Sacrifices by Indian Army. Mission Carried Out Against The Indtuders By Armed Helicopter Gunship From A Safe Distance (BVR) At These Heights Could Have Reduced Casualties By Appreciable Numbers.

Indian Navy Carrying Out Helicopter Rescue On The Ocean.A Helicopter Gunship Escort Would Significantly Improve The Security Aspect Of The Mission During anti-piracy Operations and Rescue.

A Chinese Helicopter Keeping Vigil Of The Merchant Ship Over The Ocean.  Similarly Armed Gunship Escort Of Indian Merchant Ships By Indian Navy In Troubled Waters Infested With Pirates And Ships OF Adversaries Over The Ocean Will Make Indian Navy's Reaches Longer And Contribute In Its Endeavour To Become A True Blue Water Navy.

The acquisition of number of these type of gunships obviously depend on the perception of Indian Army and Air Force but with Mi 35s about to retire from active operational deployments or preserved and maintained only for wartime operations , in view of the prospect of two front war and its wartime demands India alongside the acquisition of 22 AH-64 Apache gunships would require a lot more helicopter gunship squadrons of supreme quality & capability in greater numbers for both Indian Army and Air Force that will suffice to our economy and budget allocation to complement the fighter jets of IAF. Indian Navy also merits to have a squadron of Kamov Ka 52 type gunships to operate from the decks of its aircraft carriers and other assault ships to carry out operations during war and also anti-piracy operations and merchant ship escort over the India Ocean. Hence India would do well to acquire multiple squadrons of modern and futuristic helicopter gunships and support-helicopters into her inventory.

Written by Debojyoti Kumar

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