Bell Helicopter, February 03, 2012 - FORT WORTH, TEXAS – Bell Helicopter, a Textron Inc. company, today announced that the U. S. Army's OH-58 Kiowa Warrior helicopter fleet have accumulated 2 million flight hours. Over 750,000 of these flight hours have been flown in combat.
"The Kiowa Warrior continues to be the workhorse of Army aviation and this recent milestone is another example of the important role this helicopter fulfills in the Army's armed reconnaissance mission," said Mike Miller, director of Army Business Development, Bell Helicopter.
With a Mission Capable rate of over 85%, the highest in the Army’s deployed fleet, OH-58D lives up to its well-earned reputation as the "go to" helicopter for Army operations. The mission capable rate is a critical component of a scout helicopter's role in supporting ground troops and performing its armed reconnaissance, command and control, targeting and defensive combat missions. Further setting the standard of Army aviation, since 2003 each Kiowa Warrior is averaging more than 76 flight hours a month, achieving another distinction of having the highest operational tempo (OPTEMPO) in Army Aviation's combat rotary wing fleet.
Due to the Kiowa Warrior's heavy workload and combat attrition the number of aircraft available has decreased. To address this need and recognizing the critical role the helicopter plays, the Army implemented a Wartime Replacement Aircraft Program to bring the OH-58D fleet back to full strength. In this program Bell Helicopter is building new cabins, complete with new wiring harnesses. These new cabins have been delivered in record time to the Corpus Christi Army Depot for assembly completion with engines and drive train and integration back into the Army’s Kiowa Warrior fleet.
"The Wartime Replacement program has been a tremendous success in getting the Kiowa Warrior back into production and giving our Army the critical resources they need to replace attrited aircraft. As the OPTEMPO and Mission Capable rates show, I can't overstate the role Kiowa Warrior plays in supporting our troops on the ground," said Jim Schultz OH-58 program director, Bell Helicopter.
Future Army plans for the OH-58 include a new F model. This model will infuse technology into the Kiowa Warrior. The sensor moves from a mast mounting to the nose, the cabin receives new processors, avionics and new color displays update the control panel.
Bell Helicopter is also funding a Block II initiative focused on performance enhancements. These include a new engine, new transmission, new rotor and tailrotor. These upgrades will enable the OH-58 to meet the 6K/95F operational requirement laid out by the Army.