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Bell OH-58D Kiowa Warrior


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The U.S. Army’s primary scout helicopter due to its maneuverability and small size, the Bell OH-58D Kiowa Warrior armed reconnaissance helicopter has served the U.S.’s national interests in missions all over the world. The U.S. Army maintains a fleet of 338 active-duty Kiowa Warriors, while the National Guard has a fleet of 30 helicopters. Designed to have an extremely small noise signature compared to other airframes, the Kiowa Warrior is designed to not be seen.

The first Army helicopter to be produced with an entirely glass cockpit, the Kiowa Warrior is equipped with a multitude of Sperry Flight Systems components including a multiple target tracking/moving target indicator, an ANVIS (aviation night-vision system) display symbology system, and helmet-mounted display. The cockpit is embedded with a video recorder that plays back television and thermal imagery for the pilots’ viewing.

For weaponry, the Kiowa Warrior is equipped with two universal quick-change weapons pylons armed with two Lockheed Martin Hellfire missiles, seven General Dynamics Hydra 70 rockets, two Raytheon air-to-air Stinger missiles, and one .50-caliber fixed forward machine gun. In 2010, Lockheed Martin successfully tested its DAGR guided rockets on the OH-58D platform. The Kiowa Warrior’s onboard computer can hone in on targets as far as 10 miles away and performs laser ranging.

The Kiowa Warrior’s countermeasures suite consists of a BAE Systems AN/ALQ-144 always-on infrared jammer, which provides protection against enemy infrared missiles over a wide environmental range. Radar warning receivers help the OH-58D’s crew evade pulsed and continuous wave radars.

The OH-58D Kiowa Warrior is known for its distinctive, Boeing-produced, mast-mounted sight (MMS). Positioned right above the rotor blades, the MMS contains a suite of sensors that allow the helicopter to operate during both day and night missions, and to engage the enemy at the fullest range the weapon systems allow for while minimally exposing the Kiowa Warrior to harm’s way. The MMS suite consists of a high-resolution television camera for long-range target detection, a thermal imaging sensor for navigation, a laser rangefinder for guidance of the Hellfire missiles and the Copperhead artillery rounds, and a boresight assembly for in-flight sensor alignment.

The general characteristics of the Bell OH-58D Kiowa Warrior are as follows:

Crew 2 pilots
Height 12 feet 10.6 inches
Length 41 feet 2.4 inches
Rotor Diameter 35 feet
Maximum Gross Weight 4,500 pounds (unarmed); 5,500 pounds (armed)
Maximum Airspeed 125 KIAS
Cruise Airspeed 80 KIAS
Endurance 2 hours
Cargo Hook Capacity 2,000 pounds
Litter Capacity 4 (externally)
Troop-Carrying Capacity 6 (externally)
Avionics Data transfer system ground, data transfer module, data transfer receptacle in the aircraft; video tape recorder records up to 2 hours of co-pilot's MFD; ANVIS display symbology system provides basic flight information
Mast-Mounted Sight Thermal imaging sensor; television sensor; laser range finder/designator; optical boresight system
Weapons .50-caliber heavy machine gun; 70-millimeter folding fin aerial rocket; air-to-air Stinger missile; Hellfire modular missile system
Communication Equipment Two VHF-FM AN/ARC-186; one UHF AN/ARC-164 Have Quick; one VHF-AM AN/ARC-186; two TSEC/KY-58; HF capable; FM homing; airborne target handover system
Navigation Equipment Attitude and heading reference system (Litton LR-80 Inertial); AN/ASN-137 doppler; AN-ASN-43 directional gyro
Aircraft Survivability Equipment A/APX-100 IFF; AN/ALQ-144 IR jammer; AN/APR-39A radar warning receiver; AN/APR-44(V)3 radar warning receiver; AN/AVR-2 laser detecting set