Here is an interesting fact: In some respects, the war in Ukraine is a civil war – when old Soviet-era equipment fights on the battlefield.
And while it does not happen all of the time – many times Western weapons fight old Soviet equipment Russia is using – it is an interesting military oddity.
Thanks to the rise of social media, we can see all the action nearly in real-time and make essential calls on who is winning and who is losing this historic conflict.
Melt the Chopper: Direct Hit on a Russian Ka-52 – See You Later Alligator
It is unclear if the pilot or co-pilot survived.
See You Later, Alligator
The particular aircraft was identified as a Kamov Ka-52 “Alligator” (NATO reporting name: Hokum B), a 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 first 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-90s. Serial production was started in late 2008.
In 2019, it was reported that Russia’s Aerospace Force would receive an additional thirty upgraded Ka-52 gunships.
Russian state media has touted the capabilities of the Ka-52, stating the platform was developed to destroy tanks, armored and non-armored vehicles, manpower, rotorcraft, and other enemy aircraft on the frontline and in the tactical depth, in any weather conditions and at any time.
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.”
The Ka-52 also features a radio-electronic protection system, along with low signature devices to reduce, dissipate and distort the engine’s thermal trace, while it has active countermeasure capabilities.
Based on the recent video, the latter feature didn’t seem to work so well.
Direct hit of a Russian Ka-52 pic.twitter.com/2LRGSj62FI
— Ukraine War (@Ukraine_WarNews) March 21, 2023
Ready for Service
It was only in January that Russian state media reported that the Central Military District would receive a new squadron of Kamov Ka-52 attack helicopters by the end of this year. It is unclear when exactly the squadron will be equipped with the aircraft and if the Alligators will be sent to Ukraine.
Last May, there were reports that Russia had praised the capabilities of the Ka-52, and suggested the platform had played a key role in the ongoing conflict.
“We are keeping close tabs on the use of our combat hardware in the special military operation in Ukraine. The Ka-52 and Mi-28N military helicopters along with the Mi-171Sh export version of the Mi-8AMTSh rotorcraft are being successfully employed,” Alexander Mikheyev, head of the Rosoboronexport state arms seller said at the HeliRussia-2022 exhibition last May.
“The leading role in the army aviation task force is played by the Ka-52 combat reconnaissance/strike helicopters that are the leaders of the tactical groups of combat and combat transport helicopters,” the chief executive added.
He further suggested that the Ka-52 gunships have been achieving great efficiency thanks to their enhanced power-to-weight ratio, maneuverability, performance, and operational properties, onboard radio-electronic equipment, powerful weapons, a defensive aids suite, and strong armor protection.
Mikheyev had apparently attempted to offer some revisionist history, as at least four Alligators were destroyed in the early days of the fighting. There has not been any response from him – or any Russian officials – regarding the video.
Perhaps the Alligator just isn’t so fierce after all.
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.