Celebrating 50 years since the first flight of the Ka-25

Celebrating 50 years since the first flight of the Ka-25

11-May-2015 Source: Rostec

The first serial Ka-25PL helicopter took to the skies on April 25, 1965, at the Ulan-Ude Aviation Plant. Notably, the country’s first combat helicopter had complex avionics systems that enabled flights around the clock and in difficult weather conditions.

In 1956, designers at Kamov Design Bureau began working on the creation of a new generation of helicopter to help solve the problem of antisubmarine defense, reconnaissance, and target identification. The Ka-25 prototype first took off on April 26, 1961 (in documents, it was listed as product “D”).

Since there was no alternative to helicopter “D” in the early 1960s, the decision to begin its mass production was made in the early stages of testing. The team from Ulan-Ude Aviation Plant, which today is part of Russian Helicopters, started developing the prototype of the Ka-25. Only four years later, the first mass-produced helicopter took its maiden 30-minute flight.

Serial production of the Ka-25 at Ulan-Ude Aviation Plant was a logical continuation of the company’s production, which before had produced the Ka-15 and Ka-18 helicopter models designed for naval aviation. Sophisticated mechanics of column rotor blades, adhesive compounds, corrosion protection for all nodes, the use of fiberglass, and a large number of electronics required an entirely new technological level, as well as serious preparation. New laboratories, radio engineering systems, and a standard-design department were created. At that time, the production of all-metal rotor blades was created using original technology that remains part of production to this day.

The Ka-25 was produced until mid-1970s. While the helicopter was in use, its operations were continually modernized. From 1965 to 1974, the factory produced and delivered 250 helicopters to naval aviation units, including the Ka-25PL, Ka-25Ts, Ka-25PS, and Ka-25BT models. A large number of modifications improved the efficiency of shock and defense functions of combat groups on ships. In total, 16 different modifications of the Ka-25 were built for the Navy. The helicopters were also exported to Bulgaria, Vietnam, India, and Yugoslavia.

In advance of the winter navigation season of 1978-1979, for the first time in the history of Arctic exploration a Ka-25 helicopter that was equipped with surveillance radar and an artificial horizon took part in navigations along the Northern Sea Route during the polar night. A group of 12 people worked around the clock to navigate the seas of the Arctic Ocean, using the Ka-25PL to explore ice caps. The helicopter operated from the base of the nuclear icebreaker Siberia. In the midst of extreme weather conditions of the polar night, when winds reached 35 m/s and temperatures dropped to -50 degrees Celsius, the helicopter flew for 5-6 hours a day at an altitude of 15-20 meters.

After the appearance in 1981 of the more advanced Ka-27PL, the earlier model began to taper off. By the mid-1990s, only Ka-25Ts helicopters served in the naval fleet. Currently, one Ka-25 is on display at the Central Armed Forces Museum in Moscow, as well as in museums in Monino near Moscow and Hanoi (Vietnam).

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