The OH-58D Kiowa Warrior is a two-seat, single-engine, four-bladed single main rotor light helicopter with a low light television, thermal imaging system, and laser range finder/designator incorporated into an above the rotor Mast Mounted Sight (MMS). It is designed to operate autonomously at standoff ranges providing armed reconnaissance, command and control, and target acquisition and designation under day/night, hot, and adverse weather conditions.
The Kiowa Warrior can designate targets for precision-guided munitions carried by Apache helicopters, other airborne weapons platforms, or ground based systems. Using the Airborne Target Handover System (ATHS), the Kiowa Warrior is capable of rapidly providing adjustment of conventional artillery or handing targets to other airborne weapons platforms equipped with digital receiving equipment.
The Kiowa Warrior is armed with Air-to-Air Stinger (ATAS) and Air-to-Ground (ATG) Hellfire Missiles, 2.75 inch rockets, or .50 caliber machine gun. The ATAS provides the Kiowa Warrior with a mid-range defensive and offensive air-to-air capability against threat aircraft. ATG weapons capability provides defensive and suppressive fire against ground threats and the ability to service high priority targets. Multipurpose Light Helicopter (MPLH) kits provide multi- mission flexibility for limited troop transportation, emergency medical evacuation, external cargo, and rapid deployment relocation.
The OH-58D Kiowa Warrior is fielded in air cavalry armed reconnaissance units and attack battalions of selected contingency divisions. The Kiowa Warrior provides the Army with a versatile, lethal, deployable aircraft capable of seeing, fighting, and surviving in all types of terrain, adverse visibility, and battlefield environments, day or night.
The Kiowa Warrior program consists of three parts: a modification effort which upgrades existing OH-58A airframes to the armed configuration, a retrofit effort to convert existing unarmed OH-58D Kiowa Warrior aircraft to the armed configuration, and a system improvement effort to upgrade and incorporate safety enhancements on production and fielded aircraft. The prime contractor for the airframe production efforts is Bell Helicopter Textron, Inc., located in Ft. Worth, TX. The three primary Government Furnished Equipment (GFE) subsystems include the Mast Mounted Sight (MMS), Control Display System (CDS), and the T703-AD-700 engine. McDonnell Douglas Aerospace-West, located in Huntington Beach, CA, is the contractor for the MMS. The CDS contractor is Honeywell, Inc., located in Albuquerque, NM. The engine contractor is Allison, located in Indianapolis, IN. Supporting these three parts of the program are various tasks including Training Devices, Special Tools and Test Equipment (STTE) development and production and field support.
The first Kiowa Warrior was delivered to the Army in May 1991. It is replacing selected AH-1 Cobra attack helicopters (those that function as scouts in air cavalry troops and light attack companies), and OH-58A and C Kiowas in air cavalry troops. Initially a Full Material Release decision was scheduled for Q4FY94. However, the aircraft has been able to attain only a "conditional" material release from the Army Materiel Command due to the autorotation issue and other safety concerns.
Beginning in March 1997, a number of improvements were introduced into new production OH-58Ds resulting from Task Force XXI exercises that took place at Fort Irwin, CA in March 1997, to demonstrate the Army's concept of the "digital battlefield". These improvements include an improved Allison 250-C30R/3 650 shp engine equipped with an upgraded hot section to improve high-altitude/hot-day performance. The C30R/3 will be fitted with a full authority digital electronic control system that will replace the hydromechanical fuel control unit. The improved production Kiowa Warrior will have an integrated cockpit control and display system, master control processor with digital map and video crosslink, along with an improved data modem, secure radio communications, and a GPS embedded in the inertial navigation system. Additional improvements include an infrared jammer, infrared suppressor, radar warning receivers, and a laser warning detector to improve aircraft survivability.
The robust sensor capabilities of the KW in its mission as an armed reconnaissance aircraft, would be greatly enhanced by more effective communications within today’s digitized battlefield. By using the highly integrated avionics already on the aircraft, this capability can be added with only minor hardware and software changes. Video Image Crosslink (VIXL) provides the KW with the capability to send and receive still frame images over one of the FM radios. The VIXL consists of a circuit card installed in the IMCPU. In 1996 the KW Product Manager’s Office (PMO) developed four VIXL ground stations, which consist of an Aviation Mission Planning Station (AMPS) with a Tactical Communication Interface Modules (TCIM) and a SINCGARS radio. The ground stations will be used to transfer VIXL images on the ground.
Improved Mast Mounted Sight System Processor (IMSP) will replace the current configuration MMS System Processor (MSP). The product improved aircraft will include a new high-speed digital signal processor that will provide improved tracking capabilities by split-screen in both TV and Thermal Imaging Sight (TIS) modes, low contrast target tracking, simultaneous multi-target tracking of up to six targets, moving target indicator, aided target recognition, and automatic reaquiring of targets lost due to obstruction. The operator video display will reflect real time TV zoom and still frame capabilities. The IMSP enhancements consist of the use of high-speed Gallium Arsenide based digital signal processor integrated circuits in the MMS signal processor. The Circuit Card Assembly count in the processor will be reduced from 30 to 16. This reduction and use of state-of-the-art component technology enhances reliability, maintainability, and supportability. The IMSP will provide for enhanced growth and will not require substantial aircraft hardware changes. An update to the aircraft software, however, is required to execute the enhanced functions of the upgraded processor. This provides for future insertion of neural net automatic target recognition, identification of friend or foe, passive ranging, and real-time image enhancements. Form and fit of the existing MMS system processor is maintained, and is backwards compatible with the MMS System Processor (MSP). As of July 1997, all aircraft delivered from the Bell Helicopter production lots will have the IMSP installed. All retrofit aircraft will be equipped MSPs. As the MSPs are removed through attrition, they are replaced with IMSPs.
Height 12 feet 10.6 inches