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OH-58 Kiowa

Scout and observation helicopter

OH-58 Kiowa helicopter

The OH-58 Kiowa served extensively in Vietnam in the light observation and scout roles

Bell OH-58D(I) Kiowa Warrior
Entered service 1969
Crew 2 men
Dimensions and weight
Length 12.58 m
Main rotor diameter 10.67 m
Height 3.93 m
Weight (empty) 1.4 t
Weight (maximum take off) 2.4 t
Engines and performance
Engines 1 x Allison T703-AD-700 turboshaft
Engine power 650 hp
Maximum speed 247 km/h
Range 413 km
Missiles 4 x FIM-92 Stinger or AGM-114 Hellfire missiles
Other 2 x 70-mm Hydra 70 rocket launchers in place of the missiles


   Developed from the civil Bell Model 206A JetRanger helicopter, the US Army's OH-58 Kiowa served extensively in Vietnam in the light observation and scout roles. The Model 206 was built in significant numbers for military service and remains in widespread use with the US Army in upgraded OH-58C form. Numerous foreign air arms also operate the military Model 206A/Bs primarily in the training role. The type also serves as a trainer with the US Navy as the TH-57 SeaRanger and with the US Army as the TH-67A Creek.

   The Model 406 was developed to meet a US Army requirement for a helicopter capable of observation duties, as well as support of attack helicopters and direction of artillery fire. The Model 406 introduced a mast-mounted sight, specialized avionics and a four-bladed main rotor with composite blades. Some 424 OH-58Ds were converted from previous OH-58 models in a process that was completed in 1998.

   The first OH-58D prototype made its maiden flight on 6 October 1983. Deliveries began in December 1985, and the first deliveries to a Europe-based unit took place in June 1987. Under Operation Prime Chance, 15 OH-58Ds were modified from September 1987 for operations against Iranian fast patrol boats in the Persian Gulf: provision was made for Stinger air-to-air missiles and Hellfire anti-tank guided missiles in addition to 12.7-mm machine-gun pods and rocket launchers. The armament options of the Prime Chance OH-58D were retained for an armed OH-58D version, designated as the OH-58D(I) Kiowa Warrior, to which standard all OH-58Ds have been upgraded. Taiwan is the only operator of new-build full-standard OH-58Ds, receiving 26 examples from July 1993. Saudi Arabia operates 15 of the simplified Model 406CS Combat Scout variant.

   Currently the US Army is looking to find a replacement for the ageing OH-58D helicopters. Due to the age of helicopter it becomes increasingly harder to upgrade worn-out airframes. Newly-built airframes are required. The first attempt was to replace it with the RAH-66 Comanche. However its development programme was cancelled in 2004. A proposed Bell ARH-70 Arapaho was cancelled due to cost overruns. The future of the third Armed Aerial Scout programme is uncertain due to limited funding. The OH-58F is the latest upgrade of the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior. Helicopters upgraded to OH-58F standard are planned to remain in service until 2036.


OH-58 Kiowa helicopter

OH-58D(I) Kiowa Warrior helicopter

OH-58D(I) Kiowa Warrior helicopter

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