The Ka-50 helicopter was one of the best developments of Soviet aircraft designers. From the very beginning of the project, it was clear that this flying machine has a great and glorious future. Ironically, Ka did not manage to realize its potential even by 50%. First of all, this was not allowed to make an extremely unfortunate release time, which coincided with the collapse of the country of the Soviets. Despite the fact that the 50th took an ardent part in the Second Chechen War, the helicopter was eventually removed from service. Why did he suffer such a fate?
The history of perhaps the most successful domestic helicopter began back in 1976. The "Black Shark" was created at the Kamov Design Bureau. Sergei Mikheev supervised the creation of a new strike vehicle for the Soviet army. From the very beginning, very bold and in many respects innovative technical solutions were laid into the project, which made it possible to make the Ka-50 a truly unique and very formidable weapon. However, all this played a cruel joke with the helicopter: the Akula was adopted, but it never appeared in the Soviet army. For all the time, only 17 of these machines were produced.
It may seem paradoxical at first glance, but for all its complexity, the Ka-50 was a very economical helicopter. No, the car cost a lot, but it had one huge plus over similar helicopters from other countries - single-seat. From the very beginning, the project was forged under the control of one single pilot, which greatly reduced the dimensions of the machine, and also made it necessary to train one pilot instead of two. The combat effectiveness of the Ka-50 was not supposed to suffer, but the loss of the army in the event of the death of the car was seriously reduced. First of all, because the Motherland was losing two times less qualified personnel.
True, everything was simple only in theory. In fact, it is extremely difficult for a person to cope with an attack helicopter alone. We can say that the Ka-50 was ahead of its time, the helicopter needed artificial intelligence. However, Soviet engineers solved the problem without him by installing the latest sighting system on the machine. At the same time, the pilot "Sharks" were supposed to assist in guidance from Ka-29 reconnaissance helicopters. The latter found the target from a safe distance and then transmitted the data on board the strike vehicle. By the way, this is exactly how the Ka-50 operated during their only combat campaign in Chechnya. At the same time, its outstanding speed, maneuverability and stealth by the standards of a helicopter helped the novelty overcome the zone of action of the enemy air defense.
With a total takeoff weight of 10.8 tons, the Black Shark could easily accelerate to 350 km / h, and during a dive, the speed could reach 390 km / h. This made the Soviet development the fastest production attack helicopter in the world. In addition, the use of the latest layout scheme allowed the machine to perform a "loop" and even fly backwards at a speed of 90 km / h. But the most important thing is that the "Shark" had a phenomenal ascent speed - 30 m / s at full thrust.
The Ka-50 was also innovative in matters of pilot safety. For the first time in history, it was in the USSR that they were able to equip a helicopter with a catapult seat. The pilots could leave the car in this way at speeds up to 400 km / h and at any altitude. At the same time, the armor reliably protected the helicopter and its pilot from 12.7 mm rounds. The machine was driven by two TV3-117K gas turbine engines with a total output of 4,400 hp.
Unfortunately, the car turned out to be too revolutionary for its time, and this was the main reason why the Ka-50, which won all state competitions, eventually gave way to the Mi-28. Mainly, the military was confused by the absence of a co-pilot and the need to use an auxiliary Ka-29. In a number of situations, this combination seriously reduced the tactical capabilities of the "Shark". This is what eventually made the Ka-50 turn into a Ka-52, adding a second place for the navigator-gunner. However, it is quite obvious that with the development of artificial intelligence, single-seat attack helicopters will nevertheless gain the right to exist in military affairs.
If you want to know even more interesting things, then you should read about what is the Soviet helicopter Mi-26.