Ka-31 began to be put into operation in 1995, so far there are more than 35 aircraft in service with the Russian, Chinese and Indian Navy.
Early warning aircraft is a special aerial combat vehicle, equipped with a powerful radar system, capable of detecting dozens of long-range targets. In modern air combat, early warning aircraft plays a very important role in enhancing the ability to coordinate combat between combat vehicles. The Russian Ka-31 Airborne early warning and control helicopter, with a unit price of about $23 million, is a powerful addition to Navy units. Ka-31 began to be put into operation in 1995, so far there are more than 35 aircraft in service with the Russian, Chinese and Indian Navy.
The Kamov Joint Stock Company, began development of the Ka-31 medium-weight naval helicopter in 1980 and the first flight took place in 1987. At that time, the Soviet Navy wanted a stop-gap measure and began investigating viable platforms to act as AEW at sea.
The airframe of the Ka-31 is based on the Kamov Ka-27. One visually distinctive feature of the Ka-31 is the large antenna of the early-warning radar, which is either rotating or folded and stowed under the fuselage. The second is the reduction of the bulky electro-optical sensory suite beneath the cockpit. The landing gear retracts in order to prevent interference with the radar.
The radar of the Ka-31 airborne early warning helicopter has a 360° coverage and can spot aircraft-size target from 150 km range. Surface ships are spotted from 100–200 km range. Radar can track 30–40 targets simultaneously. The helicopter has a datalink to transfer target tracking data to the command post. The Ka-31 is fitted with GPS and digital terrain mapping systems.