The Kamov Ka-52 attack helicopters used by the Russian air force can’t exactly be called “death traps.” However, it’s not entirely false either.
Around 100 of the twin-rotor, two-seat Ka-52 aircraft were deployed by the air force beginning in late February as part of Russia’s broader attack on Ukraine. Independent researchers can establish that it has lost at least 25 of them nine months later. How many crew members have perished is unknown. However, surviving a helicopter shoot-down is extremely difficult, therefore it’s probable that many Ka-52 pilots have died. What happened to what had once been a top-tier rotary-wing force was described by a group of experts at the Royal United Services Institute in London. Early in the conflict, the best Ka-52 crews were destroyed while attempting to sneak inside Ukrainian defenses. Less experienced crews are now simple pickings for Ukraine’s air defenses, who are growing braver. According to Justin Bronk, Nick Reynolds, and Jack Watling’s exhaustive analysis of the first few months of the Ukraine air war, “in summary, the Russian attack helicopter fleet was initially used to conduct aggressive hunter-killer sorties behind Ukrainian frontlines, with penetration depths of up to 50 kilometers [31 miles] relatively common.” According to Bronk, Reynolds, and Watling, “Russian tactics changed around March, with penetrating sorties becoming less frequent.” The cautious approach doesn’t stop them from getting shot down frequently.