MOSCOW — The rivalry continues between Russia’s two new combat helicopters — the Mil Mi-28 and Kamov Ka-52 — for dominance of the domestic market.
Russian Helicopters, the holding company overseeing both manufacturers, says it has signed a contract with the defense ministry for delivery of “more than 140” Ka-52s for the air force. The deal is estimated to be worth 120 billion rubles ($4.1 billion). Deliveries will continue through 2020.
This contract allows the Ka-52 to catch up with the Mi-28, which previously was selected as the main attack helicopter to replace the aging fleet of Mi-24s. The air force has ordered about 100 Mi-28s and already operates 38 of them.
The Ka-52 was previously seen as a rotorcraft for special missions owing to its weaker armor. Nevertheless, the military acknowledged the Ka-52’s advantages in maneuverability due to its coaxial main rotors, and more sophisticated avionics.
In 2009, the military placed an order for 36 Ka-52s. They are being assembled at the Arseniev-based Progress facility, a subsidiary of Russian Helicopters; the first four were delivered to air force units in Russia’s Far East in May. The company expects that the Ka-52 backlog may increase further under a program to put maritime versions on the Mistral-class amphibious assault ships that Russia is buying from France. The first ship-based Ka-52K prototype is expected to be ready by 2014.
With the Ka-52 deal, the backlog of Russian Helicopters orders from the national military grew to almost 600 rotorcraft. Company representatives explained that earlier this year the company secured seven long-term and three short-term contracts with the defense ministry for 450 rotorcraft. Under the procurement plans through 2020, the air force is expected to purchase more than 1,000 new helicopters.
In 2011, the manufacturer plans to deliver 267 helicopters, about half of which will be handed over to domestic customers, both military and civil. Last year the holding’s deliveries totaled 214 units.