The OH-58A helicopter is a low silhouette, single rotor helicopter powered by a single gas turbine engine. The Light Observation Helicopter is used for observation, scout, and command and control. This single pilot aircraft with the capability to carry three passengers or cargo has a speed of 132 mph (115 knots). The Kiowa had a two-bladed semi-rigid seesaw all metal main rotor and a two-bladed rigid delta hinge all metal tail rotor.
When it came time for a second batch of OH-6s to be ordered, Hughes bid a much higher unit price than for the first batch with the result that the Army reopened the light observation helicopter (LOH) bidding and awarded the contract to Bell for the OH-58A Kiowa, a military version of the Model 206A, for which the initial order was 2,200 aircraft. Deliveries of the OH-58A began in May 1969 and the Kiowa was deployed to Vietnam soon thereafter for both LOH and transport duties.
The OH-58A was first deployed to Vietnam in early Autumn 1969. 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. Kiowas were commonly paired with the AH-1G Huey Cobra. The Kiowa would fly low to draw enemy fire, "trolling for fire, mark the target, and call in the Cobra to attack. The OH-58A Kiowa could be armed with the M27 armament subsystem, the port (left) side mounting M134 six-barrel 7.62mm minigun. However the vibration from the minigun was too great for the frame until it was rebuilt for the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior. The Kiowa could also be armed with the 40mm grenade launcher on the XM8 armament subsystem.
The OH-58A/C Kiowa Scout aircraft fleet is being equipped with the Stand-Alone Airborne GPS Receiver (SAGR). The SAGR is a remanufactured Small Lightweight GPS Receiver (SLGR) which incorporates features and software not found in the SLGR. The SAGR program is being managed by PM, GPS. A total of 291 installations are planned.
The Aviation Restructure Initiative (ARI) is an approved TOE conversion process that corrects Army of Excellence (AOE) deficiencies and established "pure" attack battalions using Apaches as Scouts. The OH-58A/C Kiowa Scout aircraft will be retired from Active Component (AC) units under ARI, except for Initial Entry Rotary Wing (IERW) training.
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