China Worries As Ukraine Shot Down Russia’s Ka-52 Helicopter Using Stinger Missile

A Russian Ka-52 helicopter on the ground after a forced landing outside Kiev, Ukraine. AP Photo

Ukraine claimed to have taken out a variety of Russian equipment during Moscow’s initial assault against Kyiv. These allegedly include the Ka-52 ‘Alligator’ that Russia prizes as one of its most advanced attack helicopters. Videos showing the wreckage of Ka-52 that was reportedly shot down over Vyshhorod went viral on social media.

Beijing considers Taiwan a breakaway province and wants to reunite it with the mainland, if necessary by force. China has ramped up what is perceived as intimidatory measures by deploying warplanes into Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone.

The lack of a heavy assault helicopter to operate from ships for amphibious operations and ground attack is the rationale behind China’s acquisition of the Ka-52K. In addition, China’s domestic aerospace industry’s failure to produce one is another factor driving its choice.

The Ka-52K is a naval version of the Ka-52 Alligator, capable of carrying anti-ship missiles with ranges over 100 kilometers, air-to-ground missiles, ground-attack rocket pods, a 30mm cannon, and radars with ranges exceeding 50 kilometers.

This effectively transforms it into a ‘multirole’ helicopter capable of providing close air support as a heavy helicopter gunship as well as reconnaissance and scouting missions, giving targeting data and battlefield monitoring.

Despite the fact that China’s Harbin Z-10 attack helicopter is a reasonable platform, it is still classified as a light weight attack helicopter due to its engine capacity. Even the most recent variants are still powered by WZ-9 turboshaft engines, as the WZ-16 engines are still in development and will not be available in serial production. In 2018, Z-10 also failed a high altitude test flight in Pakistan.

One of the reasons Pakistan selected the Turkish T-129 ATAK assault helicopter over the Z-10 was engine performance concerns. The Klimov VK-2500, which drives the Ka-52K, produces nearly twice as much power as the WZ-9 turboshaft engine, which produces 1,300 horsepower.

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