Russian Navy Gets a Boost with Ka-27M Multipurpose Helicopter Entering Service
Andrei AKULOV 07.04.2017 13:00

The Northern Fleet’s crews of Kamov Ka-27M modernized multipurpose helicopters started their special training in March. Last December, the Russian naval aviation received the first eight upgraded rotary wing aircraft capable of detecting all ships and submarines currently in service with other navies. Today, the helicopters are operated by the Black Sea and Northern Sea fleets as well as the Yeysk naval aviation training center.

The Ka-27s are the backbone and working horses of the Navy. The main mission is to detect, track and destroy submerged submarines at a depth of 500 meters and running at speeds exceeding 40 knots at any time of year and in all weather conditions. The aircraft provide for air reconnaissance at sea, anti-submarine defense of warships, search and detection of submarines and surface ships. Besides, they are engaged in search and rescue of aircraft, warships and vessels in distress.

The Ka-27M has a new command and tactical system. It features real-time information sharing from ground sources, naval command posts and other maritime aircraft. The aircraft boasts a significantly increased detection range.

Powered by two TV3-117KM turboshaft engines, the helicopter can operate in conditions up to sea state 5 and at ranges up to 107 nautical miles (nm) from the take-off pads. The operating time of one mission could be 4.5h, with enough fuel left for a 45min flight.

Other specifications include: crew: 3. Maximum range: 800 kilometer (432nm).Ceiling: 5,000 meter (16,404 feet). Maximum power at takeoff is 4,400 shp (shaft horsepower). Climb rate is 9.50 mps (1,863 feet per meter - fpm), cruise speed: 235 kph (127 nm), top speed at high altitude: 260 kph (140nm). Flight endurance: 4.50 hour. Maximum take-off weight: 11,000 kilogram (24,250 pound), payload: 800 kilogram (1,764 pound).

The Ka-27’s coaxial main rotor has folding composite blades fitted with an electric thermal de-icing system. Corrosion-resistant materials have been used in the construction to ensure normal operation in active sea environment.

The 4-point landing gear provides for safe take-off and landing. The helicopter has ballonet flotation devices for emergency landing on water. The aircraft is small enough to be accommodated in a shipborne hangar.

The helicopter’s mission equipment includes modern hydro acoustics and magnetic anomaly analysis, radio emission detection and recognition, information processing and other systems. The new Phazotron-NIIR Bumerang (Boomerang) radar command-tactical system is integrated around the helicopter's FHA radar.

The Kopyo-radar is mounted under the fuselage and provides all-round visibility in the search and detection of surface, air and ground targets. It boasts a range of 250 km (135nm). The radar enables 360° coverage with a greater search radius, as well as the ability to track dozens of targets simultaneously such as surface and airborne threats. In air-surface mode, it can detect small vehicles and boats. In air surveillance mode, the radar can detect fighter-size targets. In terrain mapping mode (with or without beam sharpening), it can track up to 10 targets with precise distance measuring. Other working modes include terrain following and collision avoidance in adverse weather conditions, feeding targeting data to weapons systems and so on.

The VGS-3 dipping sonar detects submarines, determines the coordinates of the submarine and transfers the data in semi-automatic mode to data transmission equipment. The mission computer carries out automatic control, stabilization and guidance of the helicopter to the mission areas to attack targets. The helicopter also has a magnetic anomaly detector (MAD) and an airborne receiver to detect and guide the helicopter towards sonar buoy radio transmissions.

The Ka-27M can be armed with a wide range of weapons, including APR-3 anti-submarine homing rocket torpedoes to engage current and future submarines at depth from the surface down to 800 metres at speed of up to 43+ knots. Normally, the armament suite includes one 533mm homing torpedo, one torpedo rocket, ten PLAB 250-120 bombs and two OMAB bombs. The 533mm torpedo is fitted in a heated torpedo bay, ensuring the reliability of weapons in low-temperature weather conditions.

The helicopter also has a magnetic anomaly detector (MAD) and an airborne receiver to detect and guide the helicopter towards sonar buoy radio transmissions. There are 16 to 24 buoy installed. Each has a detect range of 10km (5, 3nm).

The Ka-27M is fitted with a heated torpedo bay, ensuring the reliability of weapons in low-temperature weather conditions.

The Kompas Design Bureau (Moscow, Russia) has developed a satellite-aided landing system for deck-based helicopters. State trials of the satellite-aided landing system for Ka-27M are at the closing stage aboard the Sovershenny corvette.

Being assisted by GLONASS and GPS, the system developed by the Kompas Design Bureau (Moscow, Russia) controls descending of rotary-wing aircraft on ship’s stern landing pads in all weather conditions. The landing process is automated. The system analyses position of a helicopter and a ship, takes due account of climatic and weather conditions, selects landing approach trajectory, computes hovering and landing procedures.

The instrument facilities fix and process the results in terms of accuracy, time, mission completeness and other trials conditions. Using mathematical software decision-making techniques, a helicopter approaches a ship along a preset trajectory and hovers at 30 meters above a landing pad. Then the pilot lands the helicopter manually, as the ship keeps going through motions. A gyro-stabilized landing pad remaining level at any pitch and roll is a probable solution.

The renovation of the helicopter fleet, among other things through providing the Navy with upgraded Ka-27M antisubmarine helicopters fitted with digital equipment, is an important element of the naval forces’ revival. The helicopter can be assigned many more missions than just ASW. The advance of airborne avionics has converted the antisubmarine chopper into a multi-mission aircraft capable of operating from shore and deck. Russia is carrying out a large-scale modernization of its fleet after 20 years of stagnation, with billions being poured into the replacement of outdated vessels and the production of new craft and weaponry. No doubt, the Ka-27M program is a tangible contribution into the effort.