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OH-58D Kiowa Warrior

Reconnaissance helicopter

OH-58D Kiowa Warrior

The OH-58D Kiowa Warrior is a reconnaissance helicopter with light attack capability

 
 
Entered service 1985
Crew 2 men
Dimensions and weight
Length 12.9 m
Main rotor diameter 10.67 m
Height 3.95 m
Weight (empty) 1.74 t
Weight (maximum take off) 2.5 t (?)
Engines and performance
Engines 1 x Allison turbine
Engine power 650 shp
Maximum speed 240 km/h
Cruising speed 205 km/h
Service ceiling 4.58 km
Range 555 km
Armament
Cannon pod with 12.7-mm machine gun or 40-mm automatic grenade launcher
Missiles up to 4 x AGM-114 Hellfire anti-tank missiles or up to 4 x FIM-92 Stinger anti-aircraft missiles
Rockets 2 x Hydra 70 rocket pods with unguided rockets in place of the missiles

 

   The OH-58D Kiowa Warrior is a single engine reconnaissance helicopter, developed by Bell. It represents a further development of its predecessor, the OH-58 Kiowa scout helicopter. It is a result of the Army Helicopter Improvement Program or AHIP. The first OH-58D prototype made its maiden flight in 1983. Deliveries began in 1985, and the first deliveries to a Europe-based unit took place in 1987. Under Operation Prime Chance, 15 OH-58Ds were modified from 1987 for operations against Iranian fast patrol boats in the Persian Gulf. These helicopters were fitted with hardpoint for weapons. 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. These helicopters were designated as OH-58D(I) Kiowa Warrior. Later all previous OH-58Ds have been upgraded to this standard. By 1998 a total of 424 helicopters, including some older OH-58, were upgraded to the Kiowa Warrior standard. As of 2013 a total 368 of these helicopters were in service. This reconnaissance helicopter has saw action in Panama, Iraq and Afghanistan.

   Taiwan is the only export operator of new-build full-standard OH-58Ds, receiving 26 examples from 1993. Saudi Arabia operates 15 of the simplified Model 406CS Combat Scout variant.

   Produced by Bell Helicopter Textron, the OH-58D differs from previous model by four rotor blade instead of two, advanced avionics and Mast Mounted Sight (MMS) system. The MMS system comprises from thermal imaging system, television system, laser rangefinder and designator system.

   Alongside scouting missions, the OH-58D helicopter also assumed other capabilities, such as field artillery support, by designating target coordinates. It can also support AH-1 Cobra or AH-64 Apache attack helicopters, performing recon missions. Also the Kiowa Warrior can independently support ground forces with its firepower.

   The mast mounted sight system allows Kiowa Warrior to operate in day/night and adverse weather conditions with limited vision. The MMS has a long-range target acquisition at a range of about 10 km. It rotates 180 degree left and right and is gyro-stabilized. The MMS is controlled by the co-pilot, while the main pilot is fully occupied by flying the helicopter.

   The OH-58D Kiowa Warrior has improved flying capabilities due to four-bladed main rotor, that is made from highly survivable composite materials and advanced avionics. It is highly mobile and maneuverable helicopter, that can be loaded and off-loaded from various transport means and be ready for the mission in minimal time as well.

   The Kiowa Warrior has two hardpoints and can use different armament systems. It can be armed with podded 12.7-mm machine gun, Hydra 70-mm unguided rocket pods, Hellfire anti-tank guided missiles, and even Stinger air-to-air missiles. A combination of various weapons can be fitted depending on mission requirements.

   The OH-58D is fast and maneuverable. The Kiowa Warrior can cover behind trees or hills when observing the battlefield. It can transfer data to friendly command posts using secured channel, or attack the targets itself.

   This helicopter is highly survivable due to various countermeasure kits, such as jammer for infrared seekers, radar warning receivers, laser warning receiver, and inherent infrared suppression.

   The OH-58D Kiowa Warrior was the first helicopter, fitted with protection system against wires. It is a sharp knife-like rod, mounted above the cockpit. It protects the helicopter, once it hits the wires. It is worth noting that various wires, such as electricity, telephone and other pose a great danger to helicopters that a re flying at low altitudes. After testing this system on Kiowa Warrior, manufacturers began to use this system on other helicopters as well.

   During the last decade or so the US Army was looking for a replacement for this helicopter. Due to the age of helicopter it becomes increasingly harder to upgrade worn-out airframes. Newly-built airframes were 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.

   In 2016 the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior was retired from the US Army after 33 years of service. This venerable helicopter made its last flight as a farewell, on April 15, 2016. It has been replaced by a more advanced OH-58F. The upgraded OH-58F are planned to remain in service until 2036.

 

Zaal Tchkuaseli

   Article by ZAAL TCHKUASELI

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Video of the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior reconnaissance helicopter

 

 
OH-58D Kiowa Warrior

OH-58D Kiowa Warrior

OH-58D Kiowa Warrior

OH-58D Kiowa Warrior

OH-58D Kiowa Warrior


 
OH-58D Kiowa Warrior

OH-58D Kiowa Warrior

OH-58D Kiowa Warrior

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