The OH-58A Kiowa is the military version of the Bell Textron Model 206A, initially procured in March 1968 and delivered in May 1969 as an alternative to the OH-6 Cayuse Light Observation Helicopter. The Kiowa was deployed to Vietnam in late 1969 for both scout/observation and transport duties.
In Vietnam, the Kiowa operated with air cavalry, attack helicopter, and field artillery units. The OH-58A could also be configured as a troop transport, MedEvac, or for external lift missions using an external hook. Like the OH-6 Cayuse, OH-58A Kiowas were commonly paired with the AH-1G Huey Cobra to draw fire and mark the target.
The OH-58A Kiowa is a low silhouette, single two-bladed rotor Helicopter powered by a single 317 shp Allison 250-C18 gas turbine engine, giving the aircraft a maximum airspeed of 132 mph. It seats a single pilot with provisions for a second pilot and two passengers or cargo in the rear. The CH-58A is air-transportable by C-5, C-17, C-130, or C-141 aircraft. Total production of the CH-58A was 2,038 from 1968 thru 1973, with about 466 remaining in Army inventory in 2002.
The OH-58A Kiowa was intended to mount the 7.62mm minigun but could not stand the vibration until the upgraded frame of the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior was used.
The OH-58C Kiowa upgrade in 1979 had a more robust engine (Allison 250-C20B 420 shp turbine), improved transmission, flat plate windshield, infrared suppression, and an oversized instrument panel, one-third bigger than the OH-58A model. The larger panel was intended to aid in training. The flat windshields were supposed to reduce reflections that might make the helicopter easier to spot, but actually reduced the excellent forward view provided by the OH-58A.
The OH-58C Kiowa could be armed with the Air-to-Air Stinger (ATAS) system, mounted on the port side hard points. As the Bell Model 206A, the aircraft was sold in eight countries. It was built under license in Italy and was licensed for co-production in Australia. The OH-58B Kiowa was an export version for the Austrian Air Force.
OH-58D Kiowa Warrior
The Bell Textron OH-58D Kiowa Warrior is a two-seat, single-engine, four-bladed single main rotor light helicopter that performs reconnaissance, security, command and control, target acquisition/designation, and defensive air combat missions. It is a significant upgrade from the OH-58A/C aircraft. The OH-58D's highly accurate navigation system permits precise target location that can be handed-off to other engagement systems. It's laser designator can provide autonomous designation for laser-guided precision weapons. The OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopter is equipped with two universal quick-change weapons pylons, providing the capability for using a XM296 .50 caliber machine gun, Hydra 70 (70mm, 2.75 inch) aerial rockets, Air-to-Air Stinger (ATAS) missiles, or AGM-114 Hellfire air-to-ground missiles, plus special navigation and survivability equipment.
OH-58D Kiowa Observation Helicopter Specifications and Performance
35 ft. 4 in.
33 ft. 4 in.
6 ft. 6 in.
12 ft. 11 in.
4,500 lbs. unarmed
See text above.
Rolls-Royce Allison 317 shp Model 250 T63 485kW turbine
UH-58A Kiowa helicopter at the U.S. Navy Test Pilot School.
OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopters from the 3rd Battalion of the 4th Aviation Brigade Cavalry Unit, staged for deployment in Operation Joint Endeavor, Rhein Main Air Base, Germany, 3 January 1996.
U.S. Army OH-58D helicopters of the 1/82nd Aviation Brigade deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, south central Iraq, 29 March 2003.