The Bell OH-58 Kiowa is a single-engine, single-rotor, military helicopters used for observation, utility, and direct fire support.The OH-58D Kiowa Warrior, is the latest variant and is primarily operates in an armed reconnaissance role to support ground troops. The OH-58 has been exported to Austria, Canada, Dominican Republic, Taiwan, and Saudi Arabia; as well as having been produced under license in Australia.
The OH-58D introduced the most distinctive feature of the Kiowa family is its Mast Mounted Sight (MMS) which resembles a beach ball perched above the rotor system. It has a gyro-stabilized platform containing a TeleVision System (TVS), a Thermal Imaging System (TIS), and a Laser Range Finder/Designator (LRF/D). These modern features still gives the aircraft the additional mission capability of target acquisition and laser designation in both day or night, and in limited-visibility and adverse weather.
One distinctive feature of operational OH-58’s are the knife-like extensions above and below the cockpit which is part of the passive Wire Strike Protection System. It can protect 90% of the frontal area of the helicopter from wire strikes that can be encountered at low altitudes by directing wires to the upper or lower blades before they can entangle the rotor blade or landing skids. The OH-58 was the first helicopter to test this system, after which the system was adopted by the US Army for the OH-58 and most of their other helicopters.
OH-58D Kiowa Warrior
The OH-58D Kiowa Warrior is one variant in the Bell OH-58 Kiowa family.
The main difference with the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior is it’s laser designator/laser rangefinder can provide autonomous designation for laser-guided
precision weapons. Air-to-Air Stinger missiles provide the Kiowa Warrior with protection against enemy aircraft.
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The Kiowa Warrior is armed reconnaissance in air cavalry troops and light attack companies. The Kiowa Warrior also participates in the following roles:
The Kiowa Warrior is an armed version of the earlier OH-58D Kiowa Advanced Helicopter Improvement Program (AHIP) aircraft, which itself was a highly modified version of the OH-58A/C Kiowa. A hostile gunboat presence at night in the Persian Gulf in 1987 created the need for a small armed scout helicopter for interdiction. Close team work between the U.S. Armed Forces and Bell Helicopter Textron, Inc. developed the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior in less than 100 days, to counter this threat.