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Kamov Ka-31 (Helix)

Airborne Early Warning (AEW) Naval Helicopter

Russia | 1995

"The Kamov Ka-31 twin-rotor helicopter is an AEW variant of the successful Ka-29 navy family line."

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 07/30/2020 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.
The Kamov Ka-31 "Helix" series of medium-lift navalized helicopters was born out of a Soviet Navy need for an interim Airborne Early Warning platform while resources went to the proposed dedicated Antonov An-71 "Madcap". The An-71 would have operated directly from the flight decks of the limited Soviet carrier force but was cancelled when interest fell to the Yakovlev Yak-44 solution. The Yak-44 itself would have been another fixed-wing design launching from Soviet carriers but the fall of the Soviet Empire led to a cancellation in its development. Three An-71 prototypes were completed while only a full-scale mockup of the Yak-44 ever saw the light of day. This upheaval then paved the way for a modified form of the trusted-and-true Kamov Ka-27 "Helix" shipborne, twin-rotor, anti-submarine helicopter series known as the "Ka-29". Design work began in 1980.

The Ka-29 airframe was fitted with the same radar system which would have been fielded in the abandoned An-71 design. This new Helix prototype was then designated as the Ka-29RLD. The fuselage was widened but still retained the very identifiably stout Helix family form including its contra-rotating, stacked main rotor assemblies. The four-point undercarriage was retractable when the radar was utilized in an effort to keep the assemblies from interfering with the system (four single-wheeled main landing gear legs, two forward, two aft). The E-801E "Oko" radar system was fitted under the fuselage and laid flat against it when in transport, lowered only when actively used, which, in turn, prompted the landing gear to be raised. The Oko system could track targets as small as a conventional fighter up to 150 kilometers away in day or night. GPS and a semi-digital cockpit were made standard and the dual engine arrangement was improved to the Klimov-brand TV3-117VMAR powerplant series. Sensors and communications were also all bettered in the resulting end product. The system then underwent a period of lengthy trials and evaluation until the helicopter was cleared for flying. First flight was recorded in 1987 and the type was officially recognized by the West in 1988 when a pair were seen operating on the deck of the Tbilsi.

The Ka-31 languished during the lean years resulting from the Soviet fall. However, as the situation began to stabilized somewhat in the 1990s, serial production of the Ka-31 was underway - albeit in limited quantities. It was not until 1995 that the Ka-31 was officially entered into the now-Russian Navy inventory. As time wore on, the Ka-31 went on to see upgrades to its various systems to keep it a viable platform of the modern battlefield. Approximately 35 to 40 of the type have since been built to date.

The Ka-31 is crewed by three standard operating personnel including a pilot and co-pilot as well as up to three mission specialists. The cockpit is naturally set at the front of the fuselage and dotted with an array of windscreens for excellent vision out of the cockpit. Entry and exit for the pilots is accomplished by way of hinged automobile-style doors to the forward fuselage sides. The crew cabin area is set just aft of the cockpit. The aircraft is powered by a pair of Klimov (Isotov) TV3-117VMAR turboshaft engines, each delivering 1,217 horsepower to two, 3-bladed main rotor blades. The engines are set along the fuselage roof in a side-by-side arrangement. The use of contra-rotating blades means that the Ka-31 does not rely on a conventional tail rotor to counter the inherent torque of a spinning main rotor blade system. The tail is, instead, made up of a pair of large-area vertical tail fins consistent with previous Kamov helicopter offerings to date. A top speed of 166 miles per hour is reported as is a cruise speed of approximately 126 miles per hour. Range is 324 nautical miles with a service ceiling just under 11,500 feet. As a navy-minded mount, the Ka-31 skin and critical parts are designed to resist corrosion consistent with operations over salty seas.

The Ka-31 has seen only limited foreign export sales, this to the Indian Navy as well as to the Chinese Navy. India operates at least one aircraft carrier to date while China is in the process of trialing one (ex-Soviet) and constructing several more as of this writing. The Chinese Navy is believed to have received their first Ka-31s in November of 2010. The Ka-31 remains in operation service for all its listed users as of this writing.

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Power & Performance
Those special qualities that separate one aircraft design from another. Performance specifications presented assume optimal operating conditions for the Kamov Ka-31 (Helix) Airborne Early Warning (AEW) Naval Helicopter.
2 x Klimov (Isotov) TV3-117VMAR turboshaft engines developing 1,217 shaft horsepower each and driving 2 x three-bladed main rotors.
155 mph
250 kph | 135 kts
Max Speed
11,483 ft
3,500 m | 2 miles
Service Ceiling
373 miles
600 km | 324 nm
Operational Range
City-to-City Ranges
Operational range when compared to distances between major cities (in KM).
The nose-to-tail, wingtip-to-wingtip physical qualities of the Kamov Ka-31 (Helix) Airborne Early Warning (AEW) Naval Helicopter.
41.0 ft
12.50 m
O/A Length
47.6 ft
(14.50 m)
O/A Width
18.4 ft
(5.60 m)
O/A Height
12,125 lb
(5,500 kg)
Empty Weight
26,896 lb
(12,200 kg)
Design Balance
The three qualities reflected below are altitude, speed, and range. The more full the box, the more balanced the design.
Notable series variants as part of the Kamov Ka-31 (Helix) family line.
Ka-31 "Helix" - Base series designation
Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the Kamov Ka-31 (Helix). Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national aircraft listing.

Total Production: 40 Units

Contractor(s): Kamov / Russian Helicopters - Russia
National flag of China National flag of India National flag of Russia

[ China; India; Russia ]
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Image of the Kamov Ka-31 (Helix)
Image from the United States Department of Defense DVIDS image database.
2 / 3
Image of the Kamov Ka-31 (Helix)
Image from official Russian Helicopters marketing material.
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Image of the Kamov Ka-31 (Helix)
Image copyright www.MilitaryFactory.com; No Reproduction Permitted.

Developments of similar form-and-function, or related, to the Kamov Ka-31 (Helix) Airborne Early Warning (AEW) Naval Helicopter.
Going Further...
The Kamov Ka-31 (Helix) Airborne Early Warning (AEW) Naval Helicopter appears in the following collections:
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