The Bell OH-58D Kiowa offers everything your mission requires in a scout helicopter: long-range day and night target acquisition, multi purpose quick-change kits, and multiple armaments with low infrared and acoustic signatures. And it can be armed and ready to fight less than 10 minutes after being off-loaded from a C-130. If the mission calls for truly exceptional war-fighting capabilities, the Bell OH-58D is always ready to answer the call.
The latest model, the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior, is primarily operated in an armed reconnaissance role in support of ground troops. The OH-58 has been exported to Austria, Canada, the Dominican Republic, Taiwan, and Saudi Arabia. It has also been produced under license in Australia.
The OH-58D is equipped with two universal quick-change weapons pylons. Each pylon can be armed with two Hellfire missiles, seven Hydra 70 rockets, two air-to-air Stinger missiles or one .50-calibre fixed forward machine gun.
Lockheed Martin successfully test fired its DAGR guided rockets from OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopter in March 2010.
“The primary mission of the Kioiwa helicopter is in the scout attack role.”
Mission processors control the suite of mission subsystems via a military standard 1553B bus. An onboard computer provides laser ranging and target location within 10m.
The Kiowa Warrior, sometimes referred to by its acronym KW, is the armed version of the OH-58D Kiowa. The main difference that distinguishes the Kiowa Warrior from the original AHIP aircraft is a universal weapons pylon found mounted on both sides of the aircraft. These pylons are capable of carrying combinations of AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, air-to-air Stinger (ATAS) missiles, 7-shot 2.75 in (70 mm) Hydra-70 rocket pods, and an M296 .50 caliber machine gun.
The standard of performance for aerial gunnery from an OH-58D is to achieve at least one hit out of 70 shots fired at a wheeled vehicle 800 – 1200m away. The Kiowa Warrior upgrade also includes improvements in available power, navigation, communication and survivability, as well as modifications to improve the aircraft’s deployability.
Survivability & Crashworthiness
Like no other armed reconnaissance helicopter in the world, the OH-58D survives combat with a countermeasure suite, which includes:
- Infrared seeker jammer
- Pulse and CW radar warning receivers
- Laser warning detectors
- Inherent infrared suppression
The mast-mounted sight enables the Kiowa Warrior to fight both day and night, at the maximum range of its weapons systems – and with minimum exposure. The aircraft remains concealed during all but a few seconds of an autonomous engagement, making it considerably more survivable than gunships with nose-mounted sensors.
Systems inside the mast include:
- High-resolution TV camera for long-range, low-light target detection
- IR thermal imaging sensor for navigation, target acquisition at night or under obscured conditions
- Laser rangerfinder for precise target location and guidance of armament
- Boresight assembly for quick in-flight sensor alignment
The OH-58D “Kiowa Warrior” was fitted with a Rolls-Royce T703-AD-700A (or Allison 250-C30R/3) turboshaft engine of 650 horsepower. Maximum speed was 149 miles per hour with a cruise speed of 127 miles per hour. Range was out to 345 miles and the service ceiling was now down to 15,000 feet. Armament selection included the AGM-114 “Hellfire” guided anti-tank missiles, Hydra 70 series high-explosive unguided rockets, 12.7mm heavy caliber machine guns (in M296 or M3P mounts) and the aforementioned AIM-92 “Stinger” air-to-air missile (the latter since dropped from active use with Kiowa Warriors).
Initially, it was expected that nearly 600 existing OH-58A and OH-58C models would be upgraded to the newer OH-58D standard but less than 500 were eventually contracted for the change. Additionally, the original unarmed nature of the OH-58D was soon changed to that of armed light scout with some 188 examples becoming “Kiowa Warriors”. To date, the OH-58D has seen a variety of helpful upgrades to its existing design. These have included a folding horizontal tailplanes, collapsible main rotor blades (all blades folding to the rear, over the tail unit), improved communications and “squatting” wheeled landing gear (replacing the landing skids) for easing ground handling and storage in hangars and C-class transport aircraft. The MMS is removable as well for a lower profile and can be stored along the side of the Kiowa fuselage on a special support jig.
- CREW: 2
- MAX GROSS WEIGHT: 5,500 lbs (armed)
- EMPTY WEIGHT: 3,289 lbs
- HEIGHT: 12 ft, 10.6 in
- WIDTH: 6 ft, 5.4 in
- LENGTH: 33 ft, 4 in
- ROTOR DIAMETER: 35 ft
- MAX CRUISE SPEED: 128 mph
- RANGE: 299 miles (sea level, no weapons, 10% reserve)
- CEILING: 19,000 ft
- ARMAMENT: Air-to-air Stinger (ATAS) (2 round launcher); .50 caliber machine gun (500 rounds); HYDRA 70 (2.75 in) rockets (7-shot pod); HELLFIRE missiles (2-round launcher)
Rolls Royce/Allison Engines (Indianapolis, IN); Honeywell (Albuquerque, NM); Bell Helicopter, Textron (Fort Worth, TX); Boeing (Anaheim, CA); Simula (Tempe, AZ); Edwards (Bristol, TN)