Russia’s new attack helicopter is a beast (but has one big problem)

The Russian Navy’s Kamov Ka-52K attack helicopter will complete another round of shipboard tests before the end of 2019. The Russian Ministry of Defense will take delivery of the new aircraft shortly thereafter.

“The helicopter trials are planned to be completed before the end of 2019. So, the deliveries to the Defense Ministry will start right after the trials,” Russian Helicopters—a division of Rostec—told the Moscow-based TASS news agency.

While the Ka-52K attack helicopter is a capable machine, the aircraft is not likely to be produced in numbers since Russia does not currently have a need for it.

The Ka-52K performed well during combat tests in Syria when the Russian aircraft carrier Kuznetsov deployed to the Mediterranean last year, but the gunship was primarily designed to operate from the two French Mistral-class amphibious assault ships that the Kremlin had ordered from France. After the collapse of the Mistral deal, the Ka-52K does not really have a good place in the Russian Navy’s order of battle.

“Without Mistrals, this helicopter is not especially needed for the Navy, they will probably buy one squadron, no more,” researcher Mikhail Barabanov, editor of the Moscow Defense Brief—published by the Centre for the Analysis of Strategies and Technologies (CAST)—told The National Interest.

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