The OH-58C is an upgraded OH-58A with more powerful engine and transmission and an upgraded navigation and instrumentation capability. The Army uses the OH-58C model as accompanying scouts that compliment Apache and Cobra gunships. Originally purchased in 1971, the OH-58 was the primary scout in the air cavalry troops within the regimental aviation squadron (RAS) of the 3rd ACR (replaced by the OH-58D in Fall 98). Approximately half of the remaining fleet is equipped to carry 2 air-to-air Stinger missiles. Although reliable, it suffered from having no advanced optics and a lack of power in certain weather/loading conditions. This aircraft is being replaced with the OH-58D. Some OH-58s are still in service in the general support role.
Some OH-58C Kiowas were armed with the Air-to-Air Stinger (ATAS) antiaircraft missile system. Two Stingers were mounted on the left (port) side hard points. The OH-58C features flat plate windshields, infrared suppression, is powered by an Allison 250-C20B 420 shp turbine engine, and has an improved transmission.
In December 1994 an unarmed US Army OH-58C observation helicopter strayed into North Korean airspace and went down in Kumgang County in the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK). It was initially unclear whether the helicopter made an emergency landing or was shot down, as the North Korean press has reported. Chief Warrant Officer (CW2) David Hilemon was killed, and CW2 Bobby Hall of was held by the North Koreans. Both were with A Company, 4th Battalion, 501st Aviation Regiment of Camp Page, Republic of Korea.
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