The upgraded Ka-32A11M fire-fighting helicopter made its first flight. (Photo: Russian Helicopters)
The modernised Ka-32A11M fire-fighting helicopter of the Russian Helicopters holding of the State Corporation Rostec took off for the first time and began flight tests. During 2022-2023, the car, equipped with new engines, electronic equipment and a fire extinguishing system, will have to undergo preliminary and certification tests, after which it will be available for Russian and foreign customers.
The first flight of the Ka-32A11M took place in hover mode at the flight test complex of the Kumertau aircraft manufacturing enterprise in Bashkortostan.
"The modernisation significantly expands the capabilities of one of the best fire-fighting helicopters in the world, the Ka-32. We plan to complete the certification of the Ka-32A11M in 2023. After that, the vehicle with the latest electronics and fire extinguishing system will be available for Russian and foreign customers," said the general director of the holding Russian Helicopters Andrey Boginsky.
For the first time, the Ka-32A11M was presented at the MAKS-2021 aerospace show. The Ka-32 modernisation program includes equipping it with a "glass" cockpit with a system of onboard electronic equipment, more powerful VK-2500PS-02 engines and a new fire extinguishing system. The VK-2500PS-02 engines will significantly improve the helicopter's flight characteristics in hot and mountainous conditions. According to the calculations of the designers, the carrying capacity of the helicopter in such conditions can increase by about 1600 kg.
The technical solutions used in the "glass cockpit" of the Ka-32A11M helicopter have already been tested on the civil multipurpose Ansat and Mi-38 helicopters, they will greatly facilitate the work with additional navigation, optoelectronic and search equipment that can be installed on the helicopter. It will also be possible to work with night vision goggles.
The new SP-32 fire extinguishing system, developed by specialists from NTSV Mil and Kamov and KumAPP, has received a number of significant advantages. The new tank holds 4 tons of water and is divided into 4 compartments. The patented digitally controlled flap system allows the flaps to be opened in pairs or alternately, as well as to adjust the flap opening angles, thereby increasing the water discharge time.
The fire extinguishing system allows you to automatically collect 4 tonnes of water in 60 seconds, as well as add up to 400 litres of a foam agent to it. It is also adapted for use with a water cannon. In addition, all SP-32 systems are electrically heated, which, for the first time in the world, allows it to be used in winter conditions at temperatures down to -20 degrees Celsius.
The coaxial design of the Ka-32 helicopter provides hover stability and excellent stability even in a crosswind. In addition, due to the absence of a tail rotor, the dimensions of the helicopter are reduced, which makes it more manoeuverable. These qualities provide special advantages for working in mountainous and forest areas, as well as in dense urban areas. The Ka-32 can not only extinguish fires, but also carry out high-precision construction and installation work, carry out sanitary evacuation and search and rescue missions, and transport goods. It is effectively used in conditions of high humidity and is highly resistant to the effects of an aggressive marine environment. The characteristics of the Ka-32 allow it to fly in conditions of increased turbulence and stormy winds.
Serial production of Ka-32 helicopters has been established at the Kumertau Aviation Production Enterprise (KumAPP). To date, more than 240 machines have been built, which are operated in more than 30 countries around the world, including Austria, Azerbaijan, Brazil, Indonesia, Spain, Canada, Kazakhstan, China, Portugal, Russia, Turkey, Switzerland, South Korea and Japan.
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