The Ukrainian counterattack, which began on 4 June with probing attacks, foundered fairly quickly due to the outstanding planning and performance of the Russian forces.
The Ukrainian columns faced unexpected and unpleasant surprises that included well-laid minefields, remote mine deployment equipment, and the use of the Kamov Ka-52 Alligator attack helicopter.
In this analysis, we will focus on the role of the Ka-52M, the latest version of the Alligator.
As noted in the many videos posted on social media daily, the Crocodile was skillfully destroying advancing Ukrainian armor day and night in all weather.
The helicopter operated safely out of range of the MANPADs of the advancing Ukrainian columns; It is protected from Ukrainian fighter attacks by Russian Air Force Su-35S and Su-30MS fighters, armed with long-range RVV-BD missiles, which fly over the battlefront 24/7.
The wreckage of Ukrainian armored vehicles littering the battlefield has forced Ukrainian officials to express concerns about the lethality of the Ka-52 helicopters.
Ukrainian officials have even criticized Western countries for not adequately arming Ukrainian forces. Ukraine’s demands to NATO and the European Union for the F-16 fighter jets have become more strident.
Some Ukrainian officials even confirmed that Ukrainian pilots began training on the F-16s in an unnamed EU country. Ukrainian officials feel that with the F-16 in the UAF’s inventory, the Ka-52 cannot target Ukrainian forces with impunity.
Ka-52 features that make it so effective
There are some good reasons why the Ka-52 has proven to be a game-changer.
Notable features of the latest version of the Ka-52, the Ka-52M, are:
1. Network-centric capabilities. It is integrated with a new battlefield command and control system that facilitates data sharing with drones, helicopters and other aircraft.
2. High bandwidth communication group.
3. The AESA radar can detect a target the size of an aircraft from a distance of 15 km. It detects ground targets such as “tanks” from a distance of 12 km. Capable of tracking 20 ground and air targets.
4. Developed Long Range Photoelectric Target Detection and Identification System – GOES-451M. The detection ability of the optical system is on par with that of the radar.
5. The Ka-52 can carry several short, medium and long-range air-to-surface missiles to engage enemy shields or ground targets, including hardened targets.
The combination of network-centric capability and high-bandwidth connectivity allows the Ka-52 to be where it is needed most. It also provides instant feedback on the outcome of the attack to the battlefield managers. Which is why so many Ka-52 action videos can be seen on the Internet!
The aircraft is equipped with a deadly combination of long-range sensors and long-range precision missiles. The Ka-52 carries missiles designed to attack armor and ground targets, or both.
Missiles intended for anti-tank use include:
Vikhr 9K121Laser-guided anti-tank missile (ATGM) with a range of 10-12 km with armor penetration up to 900 mm.
Ataka 9M120Radio-guided ATGM with a range of 6 km with armor penetration up to 800 mm
Storm 9K113Radio-guided ATGM with a range of 5 km with 650 mm armor penetration
Product 305: a multi-purpose optically guided missile / IIR with a range of 14.5 km and a speed of up to 230 m / s.
Missiles designed to engage ground targets include:
Kh-25MA laser-guided missile with a range of 10 kilometers that can destroy bunkers, bridges, radar stations, and vehicles.
Kh-29A laser-guided missile with a range of 12 km that can destroy fortified targets, such as concrete shelters, runways, and ships.
The Vikhr and Izdeliye 305 missiles proved to be highly effective due to their long range and accuracy.
In short, the Ka-52’s outstanding performance can be attributed to its combination of long-range sensors and long-range attack missiles. All together, the Ka-52 managed to engage Ukrainian armor without coming within range of the MANPADS.
The fact that the Ka-52 is operating without fear of being shot down by a Ukrainian fighter adds to the helicopter’s danger.
Russian air defense systems – S-300, Buk-M3, Pantsir – also prevent Ukrainian fighters from attacking Ka-52 helicopters from medium altitude, and Russian Su-35S and Su-30SM fighters prevent MiG-29 and Su-27 flying over Low altitude approaching the battle front.
How will the F-16 help?
The F-16 has a capable radar and can carry long-range air-to-air missiles (such as AMRAAM) that can make effective use of the radar’s long detection and tracking range.
Besides long-range weapons, the F-16 has better range and payload capability than the Ukrainian MiG-29, allowing the F-16 to operate from deep within Ukraine, from air bases in western and central Ukraine. The airspace over western and central Ukraine is well protected by Western air defense systems. As a result, Russia will not be able to effectively strike Ukrainian F-16 bases unlike MiG-29 air bases close to the frontline.
The F-16s, which are equipped with long-range AMRAAM missiles, will threaten the operations of the Ka-52. Flying at low-high-low altitude, the Ukrainian Air Force’s F-16s will enable them to evade detection by long-range air defense systems, acquire and attack the Ka-52 from medium altitude using AMRAAM, and then return to base at low altitudes. They can challenge the Russian fighter jets flying in air dominance patrols using various other tactics.