Western tanks in danger: Russian Ka 52M helicopter gets new missiles

Main battle tanks and helicopter gunships are vital equipment on the land battlefield. In order to deal with more and more advanced Western tanks, Russia continues to improve and upgrade its attack helicopters. Among them, the Ka-52M “Alligator” has high hopes with the new anti tank missile “Product 305”.

On August 22, during “Army-2021” defense exhibition Russia displayed a batch of the most advanced weapons. Among them, a kind of missile that does not seem to be a “mighty” but has attracted attention from the outside world. This is the “Product 305 Light Multipurpose Missile” (LMUR) developed by Moscow’s “Mechanical Engineering Design Bureau” (KBM). This kind of missile is the long-rumored helicopter-borne “long-range air-to-surface missile” with a range of 100 kilometers.

Ka-52M and "Product 305" (next to the rear landing gear)
Ka-52M and “Product 305” (next to the rear landing gear) 

However, the first public appearance of “Product 305” didn’t get attention. According to the “Product 305E” (export-type) public information exhibition board released by the KBM Design Bureau, this missile uses radio data link and infrared thermal imaging terminal guidance, and has the ability to “fire and forget”. The missile weighs 105 kg and is highly explosive. The mass of the warhead is 25 kilograms, the missile has a range of 14.5 kilometers, and a flight speed of 250 meters per second.

Product 305 Using infrared thermal imaging guidance
Product 305 Using infrared thermal imaging guidance

Compared with the most advanced Russian-made air-to-surface anti-tank missile 9A1472 Vikhr-1 that was previously equipped with Ka-52 and Mi-28 gunships, the “Product 305” missile is almost twice as heavy. The tandem fragmentation warhead weighing about 12 kilograms but the news missile has 50% more range and double power, and the missile flight speed is supersonic.

Gunships and tanks work as spears and shields on the battlefield. Western main battle tanks represented by the American M1A2SEPv3, the British “Challenger 2”, and the German Leopard 2A7 have increasingly stronger protection capabilities.

In particular, the Active Defense System (ADS) developed by Israel Raphael Company has begun to spread. The range and power of the “Tornado” missiles no longer have advantages. The laser beam steering is also vulnerable to smoke interference, and it is needs to operate  at low altitudes on the battlefield. 

Hermes or Product-305 has two different variants one missile can hit a target in the visibility zone at a distance of 20 km, and also out of the line-of-sight zone at a distance of up to 100 km.

The use of new cruise missiles/anti tank missile with a range of up to 100 kilometers will significantly expand the combat capabilities of the Ka-52M in terms of high-precision destruction of enemy command posts, weapons depots, other important military infrastructure and manpower accumulations.

From the current point of view, the Ka-52M can only mount 4 “Product 305”, compared with the previous standard 12 “Tornado”, the firepower sustaining ability has dropped a lot, but the long range, high power, and fire and forget will indeed help to domainate Russian armed helicopter. As the biggest upgrade since the birth of “Alligator”, Ka-52M completed its first flight in August last year. This time it will be shown together with “Product 305” at the “Army-2021” exhibition. It mainly strengthens its own detection. Perception and avionics system.

Ka-52M performing at the Army-2021 exhibition
Ka-52M performing at the Army-2021 exhibition

According to the Russian Ministry of Industry and Trade, the biggest improvement of the Ka-52M is the use of the active phased array fire control radar on the nose for the first time, replacing the old mechanically scanned millimeter-wave radar. In addition, it has received an upgraded photoelectric system. , It is possible to replace the original GOES-451 multi-channel image stabilization aiming system, and it is possible to replace it with the newly installed OES-52 on the Ka-52.

It will also use an improved ergonomic cockpit, which is better compatible with night vision systems (it should be the pilot’s night vision helmet). In addition, one of the major problems of the Ka-52 is the 2A42 30mm cannon on the side of the fuselage. “Lack of quasi-center”, a better numerical control system will be used to increase the accuracy of the aircraft gun, and a new general data link will be added on the aircraft to carry out the Russian version of “network-centric warfare.”

The Ka-52's firing its cannon
The Ka-52’s firing its cannon

In the future, Russia is expected to purchase as many as 114 Ka-52M. The only question is that the modern Wuzhi basically costs tens of millions of dollars apiece. Will the Russians still have enough money?

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