The Armed OH-58D Kiowa Warrior, in service with the US Army, is supplied by Bell Helicopter Textron of Fort Worth, Texas. Around 375 Kiowas are in service and the single engine, double-bladed armed reconnaissance helicopter has been deployed in support of United States armed forces around the world including Haiti, Somalia and the Gulf of Arabia (Desert Storm and Desert Shield).
In 2002, Kiowas were deployed as part of Nato’s SFOR forces in Bosnia and, in 2003, 120 Kiowas were deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. 29 helicopters were lost during that operation. The US Army Kiowa fleet achieved a total of 750,000 combat hours until the end of 2011.
OH-58D Kiowa Warrior armed reconnaissance helicopter role
The primary mission of the helicopter is in the scout attack role. The helicopter can be optionally equipped to carry out transport and utility roles using equipment kits installed externally on existing hard points.
A cargo carrying hook is rated to carry loads up to 2,000lb. Emergency casualty evacuation can be carried out transporting two casualties on litters (stretchers), plus over 320kg of supplies to an operating radius of more than 185km. The Kiowa can be used for insertion of up to six troops for critical point security missions.
Two Kiowas can be transported in a C-130 aircraft. For air transportation the vertical tail fin pivots, the main rotor blades and the horizontal stabiliser are folded, and the mast mounted sight, the IFF antenna and the lower wire cutter are removed. The landing gear can kneel to decrease the height.
Next-generation armed reconnaissance helicopter
The OH-58D Kiowa Warrior was to be replaced by the next-generation armed reconnaissance helicopter (ARH) within the US Army. A contract worth $211m for the ARH, a military version of the Bell 407, was awarded to Bell Helicopter in July 2005. Under the contract, Bell was required to supply 368 helicopters between 2008 and 2013.
In order to replace four Army National Guard attack helicopter battalions, the number of helicopters to be delivered was increased from 368 to 512. In July 2008, the US Army discovered that the ARH programme had exceeded cost-growth limits of the Nunn-McCurdy Act. The ARH programme was therefore terminated in October 2008.