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Coaxial Ingenuity: What Makes Kamov Helicopters So Special?

 / Go to the mediabankCombat helicopter Ka-52 at the ‘Vostok 2022’ military maneuvers at the Sergeevsky training ground. / Go to the mediabankInternationalIndiaAfricaSeventy five years ago in 1948, the Soviet government formally established an organization that would proceed to create probably some of the most efficient military helicopters in the world – the Kamov Design Bureau, initially known simply as OKB Number 2.Named after its head, Soviet aerospace engineer Nikolai Kamov, the Kamov Design Bureau originally focused its efforts on developing and manufacturing helicopters for the Russian navy.Throughout its illustrious history, Kamov Design Bureau produced a wide assortment of military and civilian helicopters sporting Kamov’s trademark feature – coaxial rotors.In 1949, Kamov and his colleagues rolled out Ka-10, a single-seat observation helicopter, though only a handful of this type of craft was produced.In 1952, the twin-seat Kamov Ka-15 helicopter, which would become the first mass produced coaxial rotor helicopter, performs its maiden flight. Originally designed for anti-submarine operations, the relatively small Ka-15 ended up being used primarily for civilian purposes: in agriculture and fishery control.In the early 1960s, however, Kamov delivered Ka-25, a bona fide anti-submarine warfare helicopter powerful enough to carry detection equipment needed to ferret out enemy submersibles and sturdy enough to operate in arctic conditions.© Sputnik / Go to the mediabankKA-27 ship-based helicopters. (File)KA-27 ship-based helicopters. (File) / Go to the mediabankThe Kamov design bureau would then proceed to develop several other helicopters, such as: Ka-27, another anti-submarine warfare helicopter, which was adopted by the Russian navy in the 1980s, long after Kamov’s death in 1973; Ka-25K, a civilian flying crane helicopter; and Ka-26, a light utility helicopter.Also in the 1980s, Kamov produced the Ka-50 Black Shark single-seat attack helicopter which, aside from its impressive armaments and maneuverability, also featured a thing rarely seen among its kind – a rescue ejection seat for pilot.© Sputnik / Iliya Pitalev / Go to the mediabankThe Kamov Ka-50 attack helicopter, nicknamed the ‘Black Shark’ (Chernaya Akula), as it often features a matte black paint job.The Kamov Ka-50 attack helicopter, nicknamed the ‘Black Shark’ (Chernaya Akula), as it often features a matte black paint job. / Go to the mediabankHowever impressive Ka-50 is, it cannot eclipse the fame of its successor, the Ka-52 Alligator attack helicopter whose maiden flight took place in 1997.Packing a serious punch and capable of taking the pain, Ka-52 first saw action during Russia’s military intervention in Syria in the late 2010s, before further cementing its reputation as a force to be reckoned with during Russia’s ongoing military operation in Ukraine.© Sputnik / Evgeny Biyatov / Go to the mediabankKa-52 Alligator attack helicopter (File)Ka-52 Alligator attack helicopter (File) / Go to the mediabankIn June 2023, a damaged Ka-52 managed to make it back to base after losing its tail to ground fire from Ukrainian forces, with veteran Russian helicopter test pilot Vadim Bazykin noting that the Alligator’s endurance is equal to none.“Truth be told, this helicopter can operate even with parts of it being damaged,” Bazykin said, noting that one probably needs to score a direct hit against Ka-52 to neutralize it.All in all, Ka-52 is a very hardy helicopter, the test pilot said, adding that a proper electronic warfare coverage from support helicopters such as Mi-28N renders the Alligator practically “invincible.”

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