Initial Operational Capability (IOC):
Also Known As: ARH
Origin: United States of America
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Description: The OH-58 Kiowa is a combat scout and reconnaissance helicopter derived from Bell 406 commercial aircraft and intended for use by the US Army aviation units. Following the Army Helicopter Improvement Program (AHIP), Bell and the US Army developed the OH-58D Kiowa unarmed helicopter which features. Around 500 existing OH-58A/C models were planned to be retrofitted into OH-58D configuration, but this figure was finally slashed with less than 200 OH-58s upgraded to -D configuration. In the 1990s Bell Helicopter also developed a commercial utility helicopter variant based upon the OH-58 airframe, the Bell 407 and Bell 427 aircraft.
The Bell ARH (Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter) was proposed by Bell Helicopter to meet the requirements of the US Army for an armed rotary-wing aircraft meant to replace aging OH-58D Kiowa Warriors. On 29 July 2005, the US Army officially selected the Bell proposal placing a $2.2 billion contract for the production and delivery of 368 ARHs from 2006 through 2013. The new helicopter outstands for its improved survivability, low cost of ownership and deployability anywhere in the world using the C-130 aircraft. In November 2005 the program cost increased to $3.57 billion.
The ARH features the Bell 407 Commercial-Off-The-Shelf (COTS) components and state-of-the-art glass cockpit. Its nose mounted FLIR system can detect and track smaller targets at longer ranges than its predecessor the OH-58D. The weapon options include a Gatling gun capable of rates of fire of up to 2,000 rounds per minute, 70mm rockets, Hellfire missiles and up to 38 APKWS laser guided rockets. In addition to the two pilots crew, the ARH can accommodate three passengers. The ARH airframe has been strengthened to withstand ballistic projectile impacts and to provide enhanced crashworthiness.
In early 2006 Bell Helicopter announced that the ARH first flight was slated for first quarter 2006 with the US Army testing the new aircraft beginning in late 2006/early 2007. Finally, the maiden flight was conduced on 20 July 2006 in Arlington, Texas. The initial operational capability for the ARH had been scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2008.
The Department of Defense (DoD) announced its intention to non-certificate the ARH helicopter program for continuation due to costs escalate and first aircraft delivery delay to 2013. This decision was made public on October 16, 2008.
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