OH-58D Kiowa Warrior
Initial Operational Capability (IOC):
Also Known As: 406CS Combat Scout, Bell 206B-1 Kiowa, CH-139, COH-58A Kiowa, OH-58A, OH-58B, OH-58C and OH-58X
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 first OH-58D test helicopter flew in 1983. It achieved initial operational capability two years later, in 1985, carrying its prominent mast mounted sight. Kiowa's mast mounted sight features Infrared (IR) and TV sensors to better perform observation and target designation missions in support of the US Army's AH-64 attack helicopters. The need of a lightweight helicopter capable of delivering weapons against small elusive targets such as gunboats in the late 1980s led to development of the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior armed helicopter.
The OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopter retains the mast mounted sight and the majority of features from D models, but introduces the capability of loading guns, unguided rockets and missiles. Kiowa Warrior can be armed either with four Stinger air-to-air missiles or four AGM-114C Hellfire anti-armor missiles. In addition, the helicopter also accepts small caliber guns ranging from 7.62mm machine guns to .50 caliber (12.5mm) cannons as well as 70mm rocket launcher pods.
Infrared jammers, structural improvements, radar warning receiver, uprated transmission, laser warners, and other improvements have been provided to Kiowa Warrior for enhanced survivability. Typically, the Kiowa/Kiowa Warrior helicopter accommodates a crew of two men; pilot and observer. Additionally, the aircraft can accommodate three passengers, infantrymen, in the rear compartment. The United States Army has procured around 500 Kiowa Warriors since 1991 through upgrading of previous models, specially A and D.
The 406CS Combat Scout is a downgraded version of Kiowa Warrior for export customers replacing the original mast mounted sight by Saab's Helitow sight provided and having downgraded avionics. 406CS helicopters have been sold to Saudi Arabia. Taiwan purchased OH-58Ds in the 1990s but it remains uncertain whether those aircraft were Kiowa Warriors or early -D models. OH-58X was planned as a very upgraded model, but apparently, this project was discontinued.
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