The Ka-50 Chernaya Akula (black shark, NATO designation Hokum) was planned as a rival to the Mi-28 Havoc in a competition to provide the Soviet armed forces with a new battlefield attack helicopter. Kamov opted for a single-crew layout to save weight for more amour, more powerful armament, and a greater number of advanced sensors. The first of three V-80 prototypes made its maiden flight on 17 June 1982. In October 1986 the Ka-50 was selected for production.
The core of the Ka-50's weapon system is the tube-launched Vikhr anti-tank missile, of which 16 are carried. the Ka-50's cannon has variable rates of fire and selective feed from two ammunition boxes. Survivability is enhanced by features including infra-red suppression of the hot exhaust gases, layered cockpit amour and chaff/flare dispensers in wing tip pods. The pilot can escape the aircraft via a K-37 ejection seat, after the rotor blades have been explosively separated.
Later revision of the requirement to emphasize night combat capability led to a reassessment of the Ka-50 Hocum, whose production was postponed, in the light of the two-seat Mi-28's apparently greater developability for the task.
Ka-50N (Nochnoy, or night). The type first flew in 1997 and has a forward-looking infra red (FLIR) turret and mast-mounted radar;
Ka-50-2 Erdogan export derivative with a two-seat cockpit, fitted with Israeli avionics. It has been offered to China, India and Turkey, but received no production orders;
Ka-52 Alligator (Hokum-B) is a side-by-side two-seat conversion trainer and day/night combat derivative. It also features uprated TV3-117 engines and milimetric-wavelength radar. First flown in production form on 25 June 1997, the type has been ordered for Russian service.