Meet Russia's New Ka-52-Equipped Lavina-Class Amphibious Assault Ship

© Photo : Artem TkachenkoLavina-class landing ship at the Army 2015 exhibition
Lavina-class landing ship at the Army 2015 exhibition - Sputnik International
The Russian Navy expects to receive two brand new Lavina ('Avalanche')-class amphibious assault ships under the next state armaments procurement program. According to the Ministry of Defense, the ships will take the place of the Mistrals, the two French vessels which Moscow ordered but never received.

The new ships, expected to be delivered before 2025, are distinct from the Project 11711 Ivan Gren class of landing ships that are currently being built for the Russian Navy. According to Zvezda, the official television network of the Russian Ministry of Defense, the Lavina design "looks more like the Mistral, in that it features a bare carrier deck used to base Ka-52K attack and Ka-32 ASW helicopters."

Lavina-class ships will be fitted with a powerful anti-aircraft system onboard, in the form of the  naval version of the Pantsir-S. Furthermore, the amphibious assault ships will feature the AK-176MA 76.2 mm naval gun, a weapons system that's controlled and fired using a digital guidance system.

The ship will be able to land a contingent of up to 60 light armored vehicles, at least 20-30 main battle tanks, or more than 500 marines. Absent a direct approach to a coastal area, the ship will deliver the troops and armor using four Project 11770M or two Project 12061M landing craft.

© Sputnik / Viktor Guseinov / Go to the mediabankThe landing craft "Ivan Gren," built for the Russian Defense Ministry, at the Yantar Shipyard, Kaliningrad.
The landing craft Ivan Gren, built for the Russian Defense Ministry, at the Yantar Shipyard, Kaliningrad. - Sputnik International
The landing craft "Ivan Gren," built for the Russian Defense Ministry, at the Yantar Shipyard, Kaliningrad.

The projected 165 meter-long Lavina will displace 14,000 metric tons. Its contingent of attack and ASW helicopters can include up to a dozen choppers in total.

The Lavina was first revealed at the Army 2015 military exhibition. Zvezda recalled that while the Project 23000E Shtorm ('Storm') carrier design ended up stealing the show, it was the Lavina which Navy command saw as the main prospect for inclusion into the next state weapons procurement program.

Speaking to the television network, Valery Polovinkin, an advisor to the general director of the St. Petersburg-based Krylov State Research Center, explained that the design bureau has conducted extensive studies on the creation of a next-generation universal amphibious assault ship design.

A Mistral-class warship at Saint-Nazaire harbor (File) - Sputnik International
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Polovinkin emphasized that Russia gained a great deal of useful experience in the construction of the never-delivered Mistrals, particularly in the construction of the ships' stern components. "We are ready to offer the buyer a more versatile ship," he said.

The Ka-52K Katran, the naval version of the Ka-52 Alligator attack and scout helicopter, is the "perfect weapon" for the new class of ships, Zvezda said. The network recalled that "this is the first helicopter in the world capable of using the Kh-31 and Kh-35 anti-ship cruise missiles." Previously, only the Mig-29K/KUB deck-based fighters could boast having the capability to launch these stealthy, radar-avoiding supersonic missiles.

© Sputnik / Vitaliy Ankov / Go to the mediabankKa-52 "Alligator" helicopters during tactical flight training. (File)
Ka-52 Alligator helicopters during tactical flight training. (File) - Sputnik International
Ka-52 "Alligator" helicopters during tactical flight training. (File)

In other words, the network noted that "the Kamov chopper, recognized as a flying tank on land, becomes a real ship-killer at sea."

In the future, it is also expected that the R-77 air-to-air missile system may be mounted aboard the Ka-52K, thus further improving the chopper's capabilities for all types of operations at sea and in coastal zone areas. Under the present state armaments program, the Russian military expects to receive 120 Ka-52Ks by the year 2020.

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