Russia has long touted the capabilities of its Ka-52 “Alligator” attack helicopter, but on Thursday, the rotary aircraft was less than an apex predator. Indeed, it is starting to resemble an endangered species after two more were shot down in Ukraine.
Ukraine’s 47th Mechanized Brigade posted on Facebook that soldiers employing a portable air-defense missile system near Robotyne, a village in the southeastern Zaporizhzhia region, destroyed one of the Kremlin’s Ka-52’s shortly before 8 a.m. on Thursday.
It was the eighth confirmed Ka-52 to be downed by the brigade in the war.
Video Shows Russian Helicopters Attacked in Ukraine
Video of the Alligator’s destruction was shared by Ukraine Weapons Tracker (@UAWeapons) on Thursday morning.
Claims are that Ukrainian forces used a Swedish RBS-70 short-range air defense system in the attack. The pilot reportedly survived, but the gunner did not.
The loss of even a single $16 million Alligator would be newsworthy, but it followed an update that another Ka-52 was taken down earlier in the morning near the destroyed city of Bakhmut, in Donetsk Oblast.
“A Russian Ka-52 was destroyed in Bakhmut direction this morning! I thank a unit of anti-aircraft missile forces of the Air Force for the successful combat work!” Mykola Oleshchuk, the commander of the Air Force of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, posted on Telegram.
Truly an Endangered Species in Ukraine
Russia risks running out of its Ka-52s.
More than one-third of the 100-odd Russian Alligators in service at the start of the war have already been destroyed, with the first being lost in the opening weeks of the invasion when it was hit by a surface-to-air missile.
Another was seriously damaged on the very first day of the fighting. While it was able to land on its own, it remains unclear whether this vehicle returned to service.
The Kamov Ka-52 Alligator (NATO reporting name: Hokum B) is the two-seat variant of the Kamov Ka-50 “Black Shark” (NATO reporting name Hokum A), a single-seat attack helicopter. Both models utilize a distinctive coaxial rotor system that was developed by the Kamov Design Bureau.
The original Ka-50 entered service with the Russian Army in 1995, and it serves as a heavily armored scout helicopter, while the Ka-52 Alligator was developed in the mid-1990s.
Serial production was started in late 2008. In 2019, it was reported that Russia’s Aerospace Force would receive an additional 30 upgraded Ka-52 gunships.
The Alligator is reported to be equipped with modern avionics, while its unique coaxial rotor system and enhanced longitudinal control enable the helicopter to “effectively maneuver and perform complex aerobatic operations.” It first drew blood in 2015 in support of Russia’s military intervention in the Syrian Civil War.
Though none were shot down by enemy fire in the Middle East conflict, one was lost due to a technical failure in May 2018.
#Ukraine: Footage showing the shootdown of this Ka-52 attack helicopter by the 47th Brigade of the Ukrainian Army- presumably using a Swedish RBS-70 short range air defense system. The helicopter crashed North of Novoprokopivka, #Zaporizhzhia Oblast.https://t.co/SyCMVGb6og pic.twitter.com/g5ywQoox1t
— ???????? Ukraine Weapons Tracker (@UAWeapons) August 17, 2023
Author Experience and Expertise
A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.
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