Bell Helicopter’s portion of the voluntary flight demonstration (VFD) that could be a precursor to a formal Armed Aerial Scout competition is taking place this week, according to the Fort Worth, Texas-based manufacturer. The Army is looking at alternatives to replace the existing fleet of OH-58Ds, and Bell is proposing an upgraded OH-58F that has a number of new features. Other manufacturers that are vying for the Army’s attention in the VFD are AgustaWestland with the AW139M, Boeing (AH-6), EADS North America (AAS-72X+), MD Helicopters (540F) and Sikorsky with the S-97 Raider.
Among the updated features on the Block II Kiowa Warrior is a more powerful engine with an enhanced tail rotor designed to meet hot and high requirements at 6,000 feet and 95 degrees. One of Bell’s most compelling arguments is that the Block II aircraft will cost less than upgrading to another design, and will integrate into the Army’s existing supply chains to save additional money for spares inventory, as well as with training and personnel. The OH-58F will provide a “low risk, low cost, fast fielding solution,” the company notes.
Other Block II upgrades include a nose-mounted sensor and three multifunction displays. Bell is also developing a Block III Kiowa that will include its Future Advanced Rotor Drive System transmission, a new rotor and will be IFR rated.
Related: Aerial Scout News