Aug 9, 2014
Russia orders Ka-52K helicopters for Mistral-class LHDs
Each Mistral-class LHD is capable of operating an air wing of around 16 naval helicopters, although their air group composition has yet to be finalised. One option could see the LHDs operating a mixed air group of eight Ka-52K strike helicopters and eight Ka-29TB 'Helix' assault transport helicopters. One or two Ka-27PS 'Helix-D' search-and-rescue helicopters may also be included. No order has yet been placed for other potential elements of the Mistral's air wing, although these could be drawn from existing stocks.
The main technological challenge that the Mistral-class will present to the Russian Navy is the need to adapt them, given that they have been built in compliance with civil-use standards and requirements - rather than to military standards.
The two Mistral-class vessels in production for the Russian Navy have been modified compared with the baseline version for the French Navy. These changes include changes in hull construction to enable them to be used in northern latitudes, including in ice conditions. The height of the vessels has also been increased due to modifications to the ships' internal hangars to allow them to accommodate large helicopters like the Ka-52K and Ka-27PS.
The vessels have been modified for the installation of extra armament, including anti-air systems and large calibre automatic weapon stations for combating surface threats, to enable the Russian Navy to use them in the open sea with a smaller escort.