The Kamov Ka-50, aka the Black Shark, is one of the most unique and versatile rotary-wing aircraft ever produced. Here’s why:
1. Known for its coaxial rotor system
Coaxial rotors are mounted on top of each other and turn in opposite directions. The Ka-50’s coaxial contra-rotating rotor system completely removes the need for a tail rotor while also enhancing its speed and maneuverability. Using this configuration, the helicopter can also perform loops, rolls, and the funnel among other things.
2. Pilots were given an ejection seat
Ejection seats were first developed and used by planes in the 1940s. However, it took 55 years for this feature to be implemented in helicopters. In fact, the Ka-50 was the first production helicopter to enter service with an ejection seat when it was introduced in 1995. The Ka-50’s ejection seats share a similar concept to that of a fixed-wing aircraft, except the rotors are equipped with explosive bolts that jettison the blades out before the seat is ejected.
3. Kamov designed two two-seater variants
Ka-50-2 was developed in cooperation with Israel Aerospace Industries during a Turkish design competition in the 1990s. The helicopter was a tandem cockpit variant that featured glass cockpit avionics and a turret-mounted foldable 30 mm cannon. Kamov also designed a two-seater in the early 1980s, which had a softer nose profile and was fitted with a new radar system.
Throughout the years, Kamov would come up with many more variants with unique features tailored specifically to their buyers.