A multipurpose Ka-52 helicopter, also known as "Alligator", crashed in the Tver region of Russia. The crash took place near the town of Torzhok, where the center for combat employment and retraining of flight personnel is situated.
Pilot M. Fyodorov, a lieutenant, was killed in the crash. Second pilot, Lt. Col. D. Rakushin, was seriously injured and subsequently died at hospital, RIA Novosti reports.
It is the first time when the Alligator crashed, experts said. Russian Air Force Commander, Col. Gen. Alexander Zelin, arrived at the scene immediately.
The crash occurred on Monday evening. The radio contact with the helicopter was lost at 21:05, ITAR-TASS said with reference to the head of the press service department of the Defense Ministry, Colonel Igor Konashenkov.
"The command of the Center immediately organized the search for the helicopter from the air and on the ground. However, the search was suspended with the onset of darkness," Konashenkov said. "The search was resumed today at dawn. At 8:45 MSK, the ground team found the helicopter ten kilometers to the north-west from Torzhok, near the village of Bolshaya Kisilenka," the official added.
The helicopter crew was performing a routine training flight when the accident occurred. "There was no weapon on board," said Konashenkov. The crash caused no casualties or destruction on the ground.
A criminal case has been filed under article 351 of the Russian Penal Code - "Violating flight rules and preparations for flights."
Nothing has been reported yet about the causes of the accident. A special commission has been established to investigate the circumstances of the crash.
It could be possible that the Ka-52 crashed because of bad weather. "Last night there was poor visibility in the area of flight operations," a source told Interfax. The helicopter was piloted by an experienced pilot. He was the commander of the squadron, a military man said on conditions of anonymity.
The Ka-52 is equipped with an ejection system, which guarantees the rescue of two crewmembers in almost all possible combat situations. The system did not help, though. "According to preliminary information, the pilots did not use the ejection system," officials said.
The helicopter has not broken into pieces as a result of the crash. The "black boxes" of the aircraft have already been recovered. The two on-board recorders are in good condition, officials said.
The crash near Torzhok became the first of its kind. "It is the first crash in the history of the multi-purpose Ka-52 attack helicopter," Yevgeny Matveyev, an expert in the field of helicopters said. The expert stressed out that the "Alligator" was one of the most reliable helicopters in the world.
Previously, there were two accidents that occurred to Ka-50 "Black Shark" helicopters, on the basis of which Ka-52 was created, he acknowledged.
On April 3, 1985, test pilot, Hero of the Soviet Union, Yevgeny Laryushin, was killed in the crash of the experimental Ka-50 chopper. On June 17, 1998, the Chief of Army Aviation, Hero of Russia, Major-General Boris Vorobyov was killed in the crash of Ka-50. The crash took place in Torzhok too. Those two crashes occurred because the helicopters were maneuvering sharply, which resulted in overlapping of the rotors with the coaxial rotor scheme.
The Ka-52 "Alligator" is a two-seated multipurpose military helicopter. It was designed for aerial reconnaissance, targeting and for coordinating of helicopters on the battlefield.
The "Alligator" is capable of destroying armored vehicles, enemy's manpower and air targets. The Ka-52 can carry 12 supersonic anti-tank guided "Whirlwind" missiles on board. The chopper can also carry containers with artillery hardware, unguided aviation missiles of 80 mm caliber and air-to-air missiles. The helicopter is equipped with a 30-mm 2A42 gun with 500 rounds of ammunition.
The Ka-52 has a top speed over 300 km per hour. It can fly at a distance of more than a thousand kilometers.
It is believed that the combat power of the "Alligator" is not inferior to the "Black Shark", or the American AH-64 Apache. The Ka-50 is superior to all other existing combat helicopters. "Alligators" are supposed to become the main striking force of French Mistral helicopter-carriers, that will soon be passed into service in Russia.
In the coming years, the Russian Defense Ministry will purchase about 140 Ka-52 attack helicopters, officials said.