3 down in 7 days, battle between Ukraine and Russia exposed the Ka-52’s flaws

The armed conflict between Ukraine and Russia that broke out on February 24 still shows no sign of ending. The personnel and equipment lost by both sides in the exchange of fire are seen by the world. 

In this process, the Ka-52 heavy-armed helicopters equipped by the Russian Army Aviation received more attention in worldwide. On the one hand, from the various reason, the Russian Aerospace Forces fighter jets are not dispatched frequently, while the Ka-52 frequently appears as close-up support firepower for its ground troops, and there are many video data of engagements flowing out.

Interestingly, as the war continued, the true performance of the Ka-52 began to show gradually, but there were two very different opinions around social about the capabilities of Ka-52 attack helicopter.

Combining the reports of the Russian Ministry of Defense and some pictures and video data circulating on the Internet from February 24, it can be concluded that the Russian Army and Air Force dispatched the Ka-52 fleet from Belarus to escort the Mi-8 transport fleet to ensure protection. Air assault team traveled all the way south to near Kyiv, Ukraine, and then turned west to raid Gostomeli Airport in the west of Kyiv, which was the beginning of the battle for Gostomeli Airport, which attracted worldwide attention.

In this nearly 30-hour exchange of fire, the Ka-52 left the deepest impression on the outside world, but two Ka-52s crashed during the mission. One of them was hit by a ground anti-aircraft weapon, and the tail caught fire and fell to the ground, and the pilot successfully escaped. The body of the other Ka-52 was basically intact after it fell to the ground, and there was almost no large-scale damage or destruction seen. It could be due to the mechanical failure of the Ka-52 itself, and the pilot seemed to be forced landing after tech failure.

In the face of the crash of two Ka-52s one after another, different voices appeared in public opinion. One point of view is that the Ka-52 showed a very good anti-crash design in actual combat, so that after the Ka-52 was attacked and crashed, the pilots were still able to escape safely, proving the success of the Ka-52’s personnel support system design with its quite good combat performance.

Another point of view is that in the airborne operation performed that day, the Ka-52 performed the task of supporting the Mi-8, and the Mi-8 also carried a large number of personnel, weapons and ammunition and other logistical equipment. However, the Mi-8, which is theoretically more clumsy and more vulnerable to attack, has not lost one so far. Instead, the Ka-52 has lost two in a row, indicating that its performance may not be as reliable as rumored.

More importantly, in such operations that tend to support transportation, the dispatch frequency of the Mi-8 is generally significantly higher than that of the Ka-52. As a production quantity of more than 13,000, the Mi-8 with extremely mature performance proved its mature performance in this war, not only was not shot down but also was not lost due to mechanical failure.


In addition to the Ka-52K being shot down on the 24th and lost due to a malfunction, the third Ka-52 crashed data on March 2nd, from its relatively complete shape and falling attitude. From the point of view, the high probability should be lost due to its own failure. As a result, Russian Air Force has lost a total of 4 attack helicopters, three of which are Ka-52 and one is Mi-24. In this actual combat state, the comparison of the number of losses of the Ka-52 with the Mi-8 and Mi-24 clearly shows the problems of its reliability. In fact, the Ka-52K, as a very unique coaxial rotor design, has the advantage of not requiring a tail rotor, reducing the length of the fuselage, and improving operability. At the same time, the dual-rotor design also allows the Ka-52 to theoretically guarantee an emergency flight time of up to 30 minutes to help the pilot get out of trouble after the rotor is attacked. However, this design also inevitably brings about the problem of complicated design, the most direct impact of which is poor reliability.

At present, the number of groud air defense missiles received by the Ukrainian ground forces is not large, and the number of weapons that can pose a huge threat to the Ka-52 is relatively limited. In this case, two Ka-52s crashed due to their own failures and one was shot down in just one week, which is obviously not an excellent result.

The third crashed Ka-52 of Russian army
The third crashed Ka-52 of Russian army

At present, besides Russia, Egypt’s introduction of Ka-52 transaction information is less public. The outside world generally believes that it seems to have introduced land-based Ka-52 and ship-based Ka-52K at the same time to reduce maintenance and training costs. However, due to the current Egyptian Navy. The Ka-52K has not been deployed on a large scale in actual combat, so more practical experience with the Ka-52K cannot be obtained for the time being.

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