In the early 1980s, while the comparative tests of the V-80 (Ka-50 prototype) and the Mi-28 were still ongoing, the Kamov design team came up with a proposal to develop a dedicated helicopter to conduct battlefield reconnaissance, provide target designation and support group attack helicopter operations. However, the economic hardships that hit the nation in the late 1980s hampered the development program of the new type. This prompted Kamov’s Designer General to choose a modified version of Ka-50 on which to install the recce and target designation system. The modified “Hokum” required a second crew member to operate the optronics/radar recce suite. Kamov decided to use side-by-side seating arrangement, due to the verified improvements in co-operation between the crew members. This twin-seat version of the “Hokum” received a designation of Ka-52. Manufacturing of the first Ka-52 airframe began in mid-1996. Serial production was started in autumn 2008.
The Ka-52 is another modification of the basic Ka-50 design. It features a two-seat side-by-side cockpit, and is designed to detect targets and redistribute them among supporting Ka-50s and Mi-28s. In comparison to the original Ka-50, it has a somewhat “softer” nose profile due to the wider cockpit, reduced cockpit armor and large nose-mounted radome. Equipment includes radar with two antennas—mast-mounted for aerial targets and nose-mounted for ground targets, and “Samshite” day-and-night TV/thermal sighting system in two spherical turrets (one over the cockpit and the second under the nose). The Ka-52 retains the side-mounted cannon and six wing-mounted hardpoints of the original Ka-50.
The Ka-52 has completed the state trials. Fourth operationally configured helicopter was taken on strength by the Russian Air Force on 10 February 2011. Under the current State Defense Procurement Plan, Russian Armed Forces will receive 30 helicopters by 2012. A second batch of 36 helicopters will start rolling off the production line in early 2012.
696th Instructor and Research Helicopter Regiment is operating eight helicopters, in varying degrees of capability and/or modification, for the purpose of ongoing research and development.
Mistral class amphibious assault ships, ordered by the Russian Defense Ministry will be armed with Ka-52 helicopters.