User:Everdawn/Sandbox kamov ka-31

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The Kamov Ka-31 during the the Russian naval exercises in 2003
Role AEW/RadarPicket
Manufacturer Kamov JSC
First flight 1983
Status In service
Produced 1985-
Number built >35
Unit cost
$23 million (1999 Rates)
Developed from Kamov Ka-29

The Kamov Ka-31 (NATO reporting name 'Helix') is a military helicopter developed for the Soviet Navy and currently in service in Russia and India in the naval airborne early warning role.

As with all Kamov helicopters (except the Ka-60 and 62 family), the Ka-31 has co-axially mounted contra-rotating main rotors. The airframe of the Ka-31 is based on the proven and highly successful Kamov Ka-27; one visually distinctive feature of the Ka-31 is the large antenna of the early warning radar, which is either rotating or folded and stowed under the fuselage. The second is the reduction of the bulky electro-optical sensory suite beneath the cockpit. The landing gear retracts in order to prevent interference with the radar.


The Kamov Joint Stock Company(then, Kamov DB), began development of the Ka-31 medium-weight naval helicopter in 1980 and the first flight took place in 1987. This development was the direct result of the cancellation of the shipborne Antonov An-71 AWACS Aircraft(NATO reporting name : Madcap).

The deployment of the Polaris Class Strategic Submarines(SSBN) by the NATO led to the acceleration in the development of Kamov Ka-25 (Nato reporting name:Hormone). These Ka-25s were deployed on the Soviet Helicopter Carrier Moskva[1]. Later when the Soviet Union started developing aircraft carrying cruisers (roughly twice the size of British VSTOL carriers), the Soviet Navy began to feel the need for AEW assets for the carriers. The Antonov An-71 was the program designed to meet this end. But, the program was cut short (with 2 prototype built) in favour of the Yak-44. The An-71 was intended to be deployed on the Soviet Navy's first True aircraft carrier, The Admiral Kuznetsov (called Tbilsi then). Until that time, the Soviet Navy used a unique class of ship, unlike anything in the western world, "The Aircraft Carrying Cruisers". The term was very apt, because the ship carried 8-12 Cruise missiles/anti shipping missile and anti submarine Missile launchers With close to 30 Vertical launchers for Air-defence missiles.[2]

Still, the soviet carriers' had very few aircraft (in comparison to the contemperary western carriers). The commanders felt the need for an AEW asset, as it would better faclitate the decission making and direction of the limited air-power in the event of hostilities. The An-71 was the adaptation of the Antonov An-72 aircraft with a radome over the tail and other modifications for carrier-brone operations.[3]

The An-71 was cancelled in favour of the Yakovlev Yak-44. Though Yak-44 was in development (and not yet cancelled) at that time, the Soviet Navy wanted a stop-gap measure and began investigating other viable platforms to act as an AEW, on sea.

Design and development[edit]

Model of the Ka-31 (right front) at the ILA2006

With the wealth of knowledge in operating shipbrone helicopter operations, the Soviet Navy selected the tested and reliable Kamov Ka-27 airframe. The Kamov Design Bureau was already in the process of developing the Kamov Ka-29. Nizhny Novgorod Radio Engineering Institute was working on a Radar Design to be used on the An-71, the same design (with suitable changes). So they were all mated in 1980 and the design was known as Ka-29RLD. The RADAR development took time and it was not until 1987, did the first flight took place.[4]

At the end , the production version of the Ka-29RLD/-31 was so different from the Ka-29, form which it was derived. [5]

Some of the distinct features of the Kamov Ka-31 are:[6]

  • The removal of the bulky Electrooptic sensory suite, beneath the cockpit.
  • The Cockpit is wider than the KA-27/29, with 2 additional MFDs.
  • The ASW capablity is all but removed.
  • The addition of Kronstadt Kabris 12-channel global positioning system.
  • The powerplant is a more powerful Klimov's TV3-117VMAR x 2. (the Ka-27 uses TV3-117BK)
  • The TA-8Ka APU is added to provide power for the RADAR and C4ISR
  • 16 Channel digital communication gear with range upto 250 miles.


Some of the engineering changes from Ka-29 are, the change in powerplant, the addition of the APUs and most importantly the secondary Hydraulic system. The radar is the E-801M OKO ("EYE") designed by the Nizhny Novgorod Radio Engineering Institute.

The operational varints deliverd also had a Flight Information Recorder designed by the St.Petersburg/Leningrad electro Technical Institute, fitted in the tailcone. By the time the Yak-44 was cancelled, additional responsiblity of Command & control fell into the KA-29RLD/Ka-31's hands.

Though offically designated as a radar picket, many upgrades have uprated it to a AWACS class craft.[7]

Operational History[edit]

The development and trials began in 1987 in earnest, but they were plauged by the political turmoil and the defence budget cuts in the late 1980s and the early 1990s. Finally the aircraft entered service in very limited numbers in 1995, with the Russian Navy, in its Kuznetsov class aircraft carriers and Sovremenny class destroyers.

The Indian Navy ordered four Ka-31 radar-picket/Airborne Early Warning (AEW) helicopters in 1999 and a further five in 2001. Full-scale volume production of the helicopter started in 2002. The first batch of four entered service with the Indian Navy in April 2003. The second batch were delivered in 2005.

With the Indian Navy becoming a one carrier navy, it not only operated the helicopters from aircraft carriers and destroyers, but also from its shore-based naval air stations. The operation with the Indian Navy revealed a major drawback of the aircraft, its limited endurance/range, the chief element of a Taskforce/Battlegroup. So, HAL was commisioned to experiment and possibly adapt a helicopter-to-helicopter refuelling system. Also, in the Indian service, the aircraft received Abris GPS system featuring a 12-channel receiver and option to employ Differential GPS references, designed by the Kronstad itself.[8]

The later batches featured navigational equipment for digital terrain maps, ground-proximity warning, obstacle approach warning, auto-navigation of pre-programmed routes, flight stabilization and auto homing onto and landing at the parent carrier/base and information concerning the helicopter's tactical situation.


 Soviet Union


Some features of Ka-31 vary from Ka-29

General characteristics

  • Crew: Two (Pilot+NSO)
  • Length: 12.5m ()
  • Rotor diameter: 2x 14.50 m (2x 47 ft 7 in)
  • Height: 5.6m ()
  • Max. takeoff weight: 12,200kg ()
  • Powerplant: 2 × Isotov turboshaft engines, 1633 kW ()TV3-117VMAR each



  • 7.62mm four barrel Gatling type machine gun

(mounted underneath right side door)

  • Can mount a 30mm Gun in the upper pylon of the left stub-wing.
  • Two four-round clusters of 9M114 Shturm.
  • Various rocket pods (upto 36 rockets)
  • 3 dipping Sonobouys (or)
  • Upto 500Kgs of Depth Charges (or)
  • upto 5 Sea mines


See also[edit]

Related development
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
Related lists