The Russian Ministry of Defense will finalize a contract for an upgraded version of the Ka-52 next year. Speaking to TASS Russian News Agency on December 4, Russian Helicopters CEO Andrei Boginsky stated in regard to the upgraded Ka-52M. Earlier in 2019, Russia’s Ministry of Defense signed a long-term contract for the production of nearly 100 Mi-28NMs, which secures the production line for the next seven years. It has previously been reported that Russia will purchase as many as 114 new Ka-52s.
Helicopter conglomerate Russian Helicopters did not offer any further details on the Ka-52M, but a May 2019 statement quoted him as saying that upgrades to the helicopter would involve increasing “the range of detecting and identifying targets” as well as improving “the capabilities of employing weapons against both ground and air targets.” In October 2019 that the Ka-52Ms will receive an active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar.
Many of the improvements stem from observations of the base model Ka-52’s performance in the Russian military campaign in Syria. Russia intervened in 2015 to support the then-struggling Syrian Army as it grappled with multiple insurgencies on different fronts. Throughout the course of the conflict, Russia deployed a number of new systems in combat operations for the first time – some of which had already joined service while others were sent to Syria as part of their development – to enable the defense industry to fix issues with the hardware and respond to trends in modern warfare.
Besides improving the combat capabilities of the Ka-52, another goal of the Ka-52M modernization program is to deepen the Ka-52’s commonality with the Mi-28 line of helicopters in order to make production and support services more efficient and less expensive. As part of that effort, Boginsky has previously stated that the Ka-52 may also receive a missile developed for use with the Mi-28NM. The Ka-52M should be completed by 2022. In addition to the Ka-52M, Russia is also developing a naval version of the helicopter, called the Ka-52K, which is designed for use on board warships. Four prototypes of the maritime variant have been built.