Bell OH-58 Kiowa


The OH-58A Kiowa is a 4-place observation helicopter. The Kiowa has two-place pilot seating, although the controls in the left seat are designed to be removed to carry a passenger up front. Its primary mission is to locate the enemy and report the location and/or conduct calls for fire from artillery units nearby to destroy, disrupt or disable the enemy. During its Vietnam development, it was fitted with the M134 Minigun, a 7.62 mm electrically operated machine gun.

74 OH-58A helicopters were delivered to the Canadian Armed Forces as COH-58A and redesignated as CH-136 Kiowa helicopters. The Australian Government also procured the OH-58A for the Australian Army. Produced under contract in Australia as the CA-32, the aircraft was essentially the 206B-1 equivalent OH-58A (upgraded engine and longer rotor blades). The first twelve of 55 were built in the U.S. then partially disassembled and shipped to Australia where they were reassembled.

In 1978, OH-58A aircraft began to be converted to the same engine and dynamic components as the OH-58C. And, in 1992, 76 OH-58A were modified with another engine upgrade, a thermal imaging system, a communications package for law enforcement, enhanced navigational equipment and high skid gear as part of the Army National Guard's (ARNG) Counter-Drug RAID program. The program called for these "OH-58A+" aircraft to be located in 31 states and the Western Army Aviation Training Site (WAATS). By the end of the summer of 1994, 24 states had their detachments operational. The program has currently been expanded to 32 states and a total of 116 aircraft.


The OH-58B Kiowa was an export version for the Austrian Air Force.


Equipped with a more robust engine, the OH-58C was supposed to solve many issues and concerns regarding the Kiowa's power. In addition to the upgraded engine, the OH-58C had unique IR suppression systems mounted on its turbine exhaust. Early "C" models featured flat-panel windscreens as an attempt to reduce glint from the sun, which could give away the aircraft's location to an enemy. The windscreens had a negative effect of limiting the forward view of the crew, a previous strength of the original design.

The aircraft were also equipped with a larger instrument panel, roughly a third bigger than the OH-58A panel, which held larger flight instruments. The panel was also equipped with Night Vision Goggle (NVG) compatible cockpit lighting. The lights inside the aircraft are modified to prevent them from interfering with the aircrews' use of NVGs. OH-58C aircraft were also the first U.S. Army scout helicopter to be equipped with the AN/APR-39 radar detector, a system which allowed the crew to know when there were anti-aircraft radar systems in proximity to the aircraft.

Some OH-58C aircraft were armed with two AIM-92 Stingers. These aircraft are sometimes referred to as OH-58C/S, the "S" referring to the Stinger installation. Called Air-To-Air Stinger (ATAS), the weapon system was intended to provide an air defense capability for the Kiowas as they pulled security on the flanks, while the Apaches destroyed tanks in the Engagement Area (EA).


The OH-58D (Bell Model 406) was the result of the Army Helicopter Improvement Program (AHIP). It was a serious re-thinking of what was needed to be an effective scout aircraft. An upgraded transmission and engine gave it the power it needed, and a four-bladed main rotor made it much quieter than the two-bladed OH-58C. In addition, the OH-58D included the most distinctive feature of the family – a Mast-Mounted Sight (MMS) above the rotor system with a gyro-stabilized platform containing a TeleVision System (TVS), a Thermal Imaging System (TIS), and a Laser Range Finder/Designator (LRF/D). These new features gave the aircraft the additional mission capability of target acquisition and laser designation in both day or night, and in limited-visibility and adverse weather.

Fifteen copies of a modified version of the OH-58D (sometimes referred to as the MH-58D) were sold to Saudi Arabia as the Bell 406CS "Combat Scout". A Saab HeliTOW sight system was opted for in place of the MMS. The sight was mounted on the roof of the aircraft, just above the left pilot seat. The 406CS also had detachable weapon hardpoints on each side.

Kiowa Warrior

OH-58D Kiowa Warrior (Source: Unknown)

The Kiowa Warrior 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 Hellfire missiles, Air-to-Air Stinger (ATAS) missiles, 7-shot 2.75" (70mm) Hydra-70 rocket pods, and an M296 .50 caliber machine gun. The Kiowa Warrior upgrade also includes improvements in available power, navigation, communication and survivability, as well as modifications to improve the aircraft's deployability.

Wikipedia: OH-58 Kiowa