|OH-58D Kiowa Warriors of the 3rd Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment,
3rd Combat Aviation Brigade over Savannah, Ga. May 13.
Photo by 1st Lt. James Webb III
The Bell Helicopter OH-58Ds being retired from the U.S. Army fleet are destined for sales to military forces outside the U.S. and not domestic commercial and public-use operators.
Fourteen months ago, the Army had about 340 Kiowa Warriors in its fleet. By then, the service had directed its Armed Scout Helicopter Project Office to begin planning for divestment of the OH-58Ds (as well as the OH-58As and Cs) through 2019. By June 1, the active -58D fleet had dropped to about 210 aircraft. By the end of this year, it should be 60.
All units should have turned in their Kiowa Warriors and been inactivated or deactivated by 2018.
“The OH-58D was designed solely for military combat and tactical operations,” said Col. James Kennedy, the Army’s project director for armed scout helicopters. “It has no commercial flight application and faces certain restrictions for re-utilization.”
One of three things will happen to the retired Kiowa Warriors, Kennedy said.
Most will be declared “excess defense articles” and put into non-flyable storage for future disposition under the Foreign Military Sales. Storage will be at the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group at Davis-Monthan AFB in Tucson, Ariz.
Others will be dispersed for static display through the Center for Military History.
The rest will be harvested for parts to sustain the remaining OH-58D fleet by the Regional Aviation Sustainment Maintenance West unit at Fort Hood, Texas.
One reason that the Kiowa Warriors won’t be converted for civilian use is that the aircraft’s systems are highly integrated with weapons and targeting elements through the master controller/processor units (MCPUs). De-integrating them would be costly, if it could be done at all. In contrast, the simpler OH-58As and Cs are already being distributed to state and local governments by the Defense Logistics Agency.
The Kiowa Warriors played a critical role in military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“It was the primary scout aircraft for the cavalry,” said Lt. Col. Geoffrey Whittenberg, commander of the 3rd Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment in the Army’s 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade. The unit, based at Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah, Ga. began divesting its -58Ds in May. He flew the Kiowa Warriors for 17 years.
“We go out there and hunt down the enemy and find where he is at,” he said. “I like being the eyes and ears of the commander forward and this airframe has provided me the opportunity to do that.”
CAE has won a $7.5 million contract to replace the visual system and provide a simulator update to support aircrew training for the Royal Canadian Air Force’s CH-146 Griffons.
The RCAF is shifting to a simulation-focused training system by 2025. The Griffons are a variant of Bell Helicopter’s 412EP.
Bell Helicopter reported May 27 that it had sold and delivered the first armed version of its 407GX.
It said the customer, BBM Inc., will use the Bell 407GT to perform law enforcement, homeland security and other missions in the Middle East and Africa. Bell said BBM purchased 16 Bell 407GXs earlier this year and has signed a letter of intent for a Bell 505 Jet Ranger X and a Bell 525 Relentless super-medium twin.
Thales SA will provide radar for U.K. AgustaWestland EH101/Merlin Mk2s being upgraded to take over the long-range air monitoring mission to protect deployed Royal Navy aircraft carriers under the 10-year Crowsnest program.
The U.K. has accelerated the program’s delivery schedule 18 months to support retirement in 2018 of Sea King Mk7s. The Ministry of Defence and Lockheed Martin, which is in charge of Crowsnest, selected Thales to provide the radar sensor and mission system; Lockheed Martin had bid for the work. Thales provides the Sea Kings’ surveillance radar.