The KA-52 Alligator is one of the most efficient military attack helicopters in the world today. Russia has used the rotary wing helicopter in various theaters for any type of weather, including the ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

The attack craft has had some successes in the war thus far and has inflicted heavy losses on the Ukrainian Armed Forces (ZSU). Nevertheless, the Alligator is beatable and could become combat inefficient for several years at the rate they have been removed.

What is the KA-52?

The Kamov KA-52 Alligator is designed as a two-seat variant of the Kamov KA-50 by the Russian defense company of the same name. Electronic warfare systems (EWS) and radar warnings are incorporated in the 52’s for all weather-purpose operations.

The cycling rate of fire for the KA-52’s Shipunov 24A2 cannons can be anywhere between 200-800 rounds per minute, depending on the upgrades and components. Anti-armor armaments are also fitted with the 52s, such as the Vikhrs and Atakas (laser guided). The attack copter also has the Izdeliye, guided surface-to-air missiles that can hit targets up to 14 KM away.

Prior Combat Operations

The KA-52 entered service in 2008 after eleven years of testing since 1997. The first mission of the 52’s occurred during the Russian military intervention in the Syrian Civil War.

During the Syrian intervention, numerous 52s were spotted at the Khmeimim airbase, leased to Russian Forces indefinitely. The attack copter took part in operations in the Latakia countryside and desert operations, particularly in Palmyra. The helicopters have also played a role in search and rescue operations and close air support for Russian Special Forces and affiliated mercenaries.

Vladimir Putin and Sergei Shoigu at Navy Parade. Saint Petersburg, 30 July 2017 (, CC BY 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons). Source:
Vladimir Putin and Sergei Shoigu at Navy Parade. Saint Petersburg, 30 July 2017. Image by Wikimedia Commons

Its Role in Ukraine

During the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the KA-52 provided close air support to Russian Forces in the occupied territories. Initially having some successes during the early months of the full-fledged invasion in the Donbas region, the 52s started to take a beating when Ukraine was provided with valuable anti-aircraft systems during their autumn offensives in 2022.