How can anybody ever NOT need a gunship?
- Schlock Mercenary
Job description: kills tanks. Does so in two distinct ways: it either goes in to confront tanks face-to-face and becomes a bullet magnet, or, when upgraded and paired with a Mi-2000, it can take pot-shots at standoff range.
NAJSA reporting name: Howler
Squad composition: 4 craft
OKB Kamov’s way into combat gunships, a category monopolized by Mil' and the Mi-24, was not easy. Kamov has had favour with the Navy, as the OKB specialises in co-axial rotors, which make helicopters compact and good at hovering, as well as give them spectacular mobility. On the other hand, Mil' has used the coveted Mi-8, the most common helicopter in the world, as basis for more conventional and fairly successful gunship designs; fortunately or not, reputation and familiarity appear to be a decisive factor for the Russian military.
When the call to replace the Mi-24 gunship-transport with a dedicated transport came, Mi-28 and Ka-50 got at each other's throats. Mi-28 is a thoroughly conventional design, without a radical edge over the designated rival, the AH-64D; Ka-50, on the other hand, was a, well, pimped-out show-off that packed every innovative concept available: co-axial rotors, maximum automation... So it got booted in favour of Mi-28. It saw a revival when the Navy tried to arm up their new French-made assault carriers with gunship wings, but the deal got booted in mid-2010s.
However, the new post-2018 leadership is very eager to dust off all exotic R'n'D. GRU division P (Psychotronics) would be reactivated if it existed, let alone a project of a very fast, very manoeuvrable helicopter.
As a tank hunter, it possesses a single set of Mk 1 Eyeballs with flip-on NVG, but it has thermal sights for its weapons, and an updated standard SPO-15 radar detector. As the aircraft lacks a Guy In Back, it is inherently inferior at target detection to the Blackfoot.
- Wide-angle infrared viewer
- N025 Arbalet - adds a rotor axle-mounted millimetre-wave line-of-sight-only anti-ground vehicle radar, the Howler's most effective sensor. Also adds the ability "Go Dark".
- Optronic targeting block
- Target recognition subsystem - a major issue when the only crewmember is already tasked with flight, firing and tactics. Still, it's nothing like Cheetah's monotask AI.
One gun mount, three hardpoints per wing, specialised wingtip launch rails.
- 9K121 Vikhr - two sextuple pods of beam-riding anti-tank missiles. Vulnerable to dusty conditions, supports only one missile at a time.
- Tandem Warhead
- 9M120 Ataka - replaces Vikre with octuple pods of radio-command-guided long-range missiles.
- Remote Datalink - encrypted data feed from Mi-2000 drones can be used to guide missiles to targets well outside their parent craft's sensor range.
- High-Resistance Warhead - with reduced vulnerability to lasers and EMP.
- Millimetre-wave RADAR - terminal guidance fire-and-forget radar a la Hellfire.
- Thermite Warhead - incendiary particles are sucked in in the wake of the primary shaped charge, making a critical hit very likely.
Due to Ka-50 and Ka-65 being highly-mobile single-seat helicopters, they use neither a super-high-ROF aircraft cannon nor a turreted chin mount, instead settling for a limited-angle 2A42 30 mm autocannon.
- AP shells
- Three-plane stabilisation
- AP-I-HT thermite shells
Four B-8M2 80 mm 20-round pods, by default. S-8KOM HEAT-Frag rockets.
- B-13Sh - 122 mm, 5 rounds per pod.
- Ugroza - laser guidance package piggy-backing the original Ataka laser.
- S-13T - kinetic concrete-piercing rockets, anti-IFV-grade.
As neither Ka-65 nor Su-25 have dual-purpose guided missiles like the Cheetah does, but they have specialised APU-60 wingtip-mounted launch rails designed for one exact size of missile, so upgrades are common among them as opposed to Su-57 and MiG-61 and their advanced systems and internal bays.
- R-60 - off-the-shelf somewhat outdated "heat-seeker" missile.
- R-73BP - a somewhat stripped-down variant that trades helmet-mounted targeting for an armour-piercing anti-gunship warhead.
- Nose Art - Ka-65 and Su-25 aircraft are often seen with bizarrely identical "shark face" drawings on their sleek, similarly shaped armoured noses. It is strongly believed that this is a formally sanctioned form of psychological warfare, as the sight of a slowly swooping aircraft with a toothy grin cheers up friendly troops and causes enemies to run a little bit faster... It used to have more effect when A-10s had the Avenger cannon sticking out of the shark's mouth, but new Razorbacks are stealthy monochrome grey.
As the least stealthy of the gunships it gets shot quite a lot. Luckily, it is undoubtedly the toughest of them. Kamov co-axial rotors remove the need for a tail rotor, leaving Ka-65's tail with non-critical aerodynamic stabilisers, making it a non-essential component; hence it’s poorly armoured and gets shot off a lot. Also, Ka-65 comes with a K-37-800 ejection seat and an emergency passenger bay for downed crew pick-up, decreasing the loss of experience with casualties. Aside from that, while featuring heavy titanium armour plating resistant to light autocannon shells and polycarbonate armour-glass resistant to heavy machine gun rounds, it has a rudimentary flares and chaff countermeasure suite.
- Ceramic-heavy duty armour
- Integrated damage control - increases HP
- Applique armour plates
- Micro-reactive armour - a miniaturised version of ERA blocks, it is designed to drive off high-velocity directed frag and has a secondary function of highly effective anti-laser armour.
- ECM block
- Omnidirectional missile detection system - infrared-based
- Integrated threat assessment system
The co-axial rotors, which provide shocking manoeuvrability and acceleration, are powered by a pair of TVZ-117 family turboshaft engines.
- Flawless carbon composite turbines - increased thrust
- Supplemental fuel tank - increased range
- Directed exhaust - the limited thrust generated by the turbines is optimised for horizontal thrust.