Russian helicopter manufacturer Kamov has begun flight testing an all-weather attack variant of the Ka-50 Hokum, the Ka-50N, fitted with a more capable sensor suite.

The Ka-50N prototype has been equipped with a nose-mounted forward-looking infra-red (FLIR) sensor, understood to have been supplied by Thomson-CSF.

The ball-type sensor is mounted above a Shkval-V sighting system.

The sensor fit appears to be the same as that which was unveiled on the two-seat variant, the Ka-52. On this aircraft, however, the sensor ball is roof-mounted to the front of the rotor shaft.

A second television display has been added in the cockpit, which has also been modiÌed to be compatible with night-vision goggles.

According to Kamov, the FLIR sensor on the Ka-50N prototype has not been integrated into the weapons system yet, although this work is under way.

The company also intends to equip the Hokum with a millimetre-wave radar, the Arbalet, although neither the Ka-52 nor the Ka-50N prototypes have yet been flown with the system.

So far, only a limited number of Ka-50s have been produced, with Kamov and Mil battling to provide eventually the Russian army with an attack helicopter to replace the Mil Mi-24 Hind.

Although replacing the Hind is becoming a pressing issue, the Russian defence ministry does not have the funds to procure the Hokum, or the Mil Mi-28 Havoc, in adequate numbers.

Both design bureaux have also been offering actively their respective attack helicopters for export.

Russian state arms agency Rosvoorouzhenie says that it has "-agreed in principle" two export contracts for 12 and 15 Ka-50s, respectively, to unspecified foreign customers, believed to be Slovakia and Myanmar.



Source: Flight International