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OH-58F Future Warrior

The OH-58D Kiowa Warrior has been on the front lines fighting next to the ground commander for the last decade. In an effort to bring the fleet back to full strength, the Army has initiated a Wartime Replacement Aircraft program. For this initiative, Bell Helicopter has begun building cabins, complete with new wiring harnesses, that will then be delivered to Corpus Christi Army Depot (CCAD) for final assembly as an operational aircraft and integration back into the fleet.

In order to maintain combat effectiveness, the Army has also initiated an OH-58F upgrade program. The F model program will infuse technology into the combat-proven Kiowa platform. With a new Nose Mounted Sensor, new Control and Display Sub-system 5 (CDS-5), three new color displays, dual channel FADEC, and integrated Level II MUM-O, the OH-58F is the Next Generation of Kiowa that will continue to take the fight to the enemy.

Building upon F model Cockpit and Sensor Upgrade Program (CASUP) improvements by adding a new engine, transmission, and rotor system, along with the latest condition-based maintenance (CBM) technologies, the upgraded OH-58F will provide greater capability, better performance, increased safety and even more operational readiness.

The OH-58F is the next generation Kiowa Warrior designed specifically for the Army's next generation Scout mission. Building on the proven strengths of its predecessor while adding the latest in advanced technology, the OH-58F answers the call for tenacity, stealth and lethality. The OH-58F features enhanced sensors, new cockpit control hardware and software, three color multi-function displays, a dual-redundant digital engine controller and the latest aircraft survivable equipment. Level II Manned-Unmanned Operations (MUM-O) technology is also incorporated to provide increased situational awareness and improved battlefield command and control.

The OH-58F, the newly updated Kiowa Warrior aircraft, made a ceremonial "first flight," 30 April 2013, at Redstone Arsenal, AL. With new cockpit and sensor modifications installed, the OH-58F represents the first major upgrade or modernization to the Kiowa Warrior in 20 years. The "cockpit and sensor upgrade program," called CASUP, converts OH-58D Kiowa Warriors into OH-58F models. The CASUP program is designed to address obsolescence in the aircraft as well as the capabilities of the sensor.

With the cancellation of the ARH-70A Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter (ARH) on 16 October 2008, it became clear that the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior would remain on the front line for the foreseeable future. The venerable KW is a proven work horse for the war fighter and remains the go-to asset for theater ground commanders, having flown more than 750,000 hours, surpassing all other Army rotary wing platforms in readiness, and executing an OPTEMPO five times the normal rate. The FOX model Kiowa Warrior is a significant investment into the OH-58D fleet and will ensure the Kiowa Warrior continues to be a combat multiplier on the Joint/combined battlefield across the full spectrum of military operations.

The biggest change to the aircraft is that the familiar sensor ball, which is mast-mounted above the rotor in older models, has been moved down to the front of the aircraft. The nose-mounted common sensor payload includes improved optics, an infra-red sensor, laser pointer and laser spot tracker. Mounting the sensor package on the nose of the aircraft was a decision made after considering operations over 12 years in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The helicopters were doing a lot more maneuvering flight both in urban and non-urban environments, and the sight quickly reached the stop limits. It was very difficult to track targets when flying in an environment much closer to the enemy than ever envisioned with the mast-mounted sensor in the Cold War-era. The aircraft will be "a little more exposed" by using the nose-mounted sight instead of the mast-mounted sight. But other factors in the battle space mitigate that exposure.

The OH-58F included advanced nose mounted sensor, improved cockpit control hardware and software for enhanced situational awareness, three full color multi-function displays, dual-redundant digital engine controller for enhanced engine safety, digital inter-cockpit communications, digital HELLFIRE future upgrades, Aircraft Survivability Equipment (ASE) upgrades, and a redesigned aircraft wiring harness. The FOX model will also integrate Level 2 Manned Unmanned Teaming, Common Missile Warning System (CMWS), Health and Usage Monitoring (HUMS), and enhanced weapons functionality via 1760 digital interface.

With the linkages that are provided through communications, through manned-unmanned teaming in the current generation of aircraft as opposed to the original OH-58D in the late 1980s, and teaming with other aircraft such as the AH-64 Apache, the Army believed the OH-58F would be able to overcome that risk and still perform the mission in major combat operation-type environment. Based on what was seen in the past ten years, the OH-58F can expect to be deployed in more environments like the current operating environment in Afghanistan, or in Iraq.

The CASUP program, which converts the D model into F models, brings much capability to the well-used aircraft. The OH-58F also includes a new digital cockpit that can be customized by the crew to display information relevant to the mission. Additionally, the OH-58F brings doubled processing speed to the aircraft, as well as improved recording and storage capability. Both the pilot and co-pilot now have their own separate map and data viewing capability. The "F" model Kiowa is outfitted with next-generation cockpit technologies called Control and Display Subsystem, version 5. This brings advanced processing power, more memory and throughput, full color graphics, and dual-independent advanced moving maps.

The improved cockpit avionics include an increased capacity to store and process key digital information. The "F" model cockpit includes a Force Battle Command Brigade and Below, or FBCB2 display screen. Later versions of the "F" model aircraft will include a faster, more high-tech Blue Force Tracker 2 for improved battle situational awareness. The OH-58F is configured with what is called Level 2 Manned-Unmanned teaming, or L2MUM - which means that the pilots in the cockpit can view feeds from nearby unmanned aircraft systems in real time.

The aircraft will also be built with a dual-channel full-authority digital engine-controller to ensure the engine operates at its required power level regardless of the environment and the various demands placed on the aircraft. In terms of protection, the Kiowa Warrior is configured with protective ballistic floor armor and the Common Missile Warning System, or CMWS, which can shoot off flares to divert incoming missiles.

The OH-58F is about 160 pounds lighter than the D model of the aircraft, which means that commanders have more mission flexibility when using the aircraft. This provides additional flexibility to the commander and crew. A weight reduction on the aircraft means it can carry more fuel for increased flight time, or more rockets or ammunition. Flexibility is really the key thing it provides.

This is the largest and most comprehensive development program that the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research Development and Engineering Centers (AMRDEC) Prototype Integration Facility (PIF) had ever undertaken. In order to build the OH-58F, the Army depopulated or took apart two of the three OH-58D Kiowa Warriors under the Cockpit and Sensor Upgrade Program (CASUP) and installed the Nose Mounted Structure on the aircraft which essentially makes them into OH-58F models. The building of the OH-58F was the first time the Army had built aircraft as the Lead Systems Integrator, meaning that the Army was in charge of managing all the activities to integrate and build the aircraft. By managing this program internally through the Project Office for Armed Scout Helicopters, this created significant savings to the taxpayers over the life of the program by maximizing competitive opportunity in support of production. Over $37M will be saved during the Research, Development, Test and Evaluation phase, and over $551M during the Procurement/Production phase.

As of 2011 the first flight of the OH-58F configuration was planned for the 4th quarter of 2012. Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) for OH-58D to OH-58F modification was scheduled to begin immediately after the Milestone C review currently planned for March 2014. The acquisition strategy was to modify the entire OH-58D fleet. The approved Army Procurement Objective was 368 aircraft.

The Prototype Integration Facility at Redstone Arsenal, AL, built the "Prototype Qualification 1" OH-58F aircraft. In the fall of 2013, production transitioned to Corpus Christi Army Depot, Corpus Christi, Texas, to build PQ2, PQ3, and PQ4, as the Army prepared for milestone C decision. In the fall of 2014, the Army would conduct a limited user test of the aircraft, and by March 2015, the Army would make a low-rate initial production decision. The LRIP Lot 1 set included 27 aircraft and LRIP Lot 2 includes 33 aircraft. The decision to go into full-rate production will yield a total of 368 OH-58F Kiowa Warriors, to be built between 2017-2025.

The OH-58D Kiowa Warrior had the highest operational tempo of any Army aircraft in theater. On average, it maintained a monthly operational tempo of about 75 hours. In 2012 in theater, that number was more than 100 hours a month. The OH-58A model appeared in the Army in the late 1960s, during the Vietnam era. Some of the aircraft in the Army inventory today are more than 40 years old. But the CASUP doesn't "zero-time" the aircraft. About 60 percent of the airframe will be replaced. But there's 40 percent that is literally still 42 years old today, and when the production line is finished, 55 years old.

OH-58 Block II

Bell Helicopter conducted the maiden flight of the first OH-58 Block II demonstrator. The helicopter, which features Honeywell HTS900-2 engine, went airborne on 18 April 2011 at the companys Xworx R&D facility in Fort Worth, Texas. Bell Helicopter completed test flights in Colorado in June 2011 of the OH-58 Block II demonstrator in high and hot conditions. Test pilots flew the helicopter at several different altitudes and temperatures to test its performance at a minimum altitude of 6,000 feet on a 95-degree day (6K/95).

The OH-58 Block II available with Near-Term System Improvement performance enhancements, offers the fastest-fielding, lowest-risk and most affordable solution to achieve improved high/hot performance in an armed scout helicopter. This high/hot performance that our soldiers need can be attained with propulsion and drive train upgrades to the existing Kiowa Warrior platform. Building upon F model Cockpit and Sensor Upgrade Program (CASUP) improvements by adding a new engine, transmission, and rotor system, along with the latest condition-based maintenance (CBM) technologies, the upgraded OH-58F will provide greater capability, better performance, increased safety and even more operational readiness.

The OH-58 Block II demonstrator takes an OH-58 Kiowa Warrior and makes it a "fast-fielding, low-risk and lowest-cost solution to the Armys expected high-hot operational requirement of 6,000-foot, 95-degree performance. That performance can be attained with propulsion and drive-train upgrades to the existing platform", the company said.

The Block II aircraft builds on the OH-58F-model cockpit and sensor upgrade program (CASUP) by adding a new Honeywell HTS900 engine, transmission and rotor system. The CASUP program replaces the OH-58Ds mast-mounted sensor with a nose-mounted sensor, updates the cockpit with color, multifunction displays, and incorporates full authority digital engine control and common missile warning system. As with the EADS candidate helicopter, the OH-58 Block II aircraft can be fitted with M3P machine gun, 2.75-inch rockets and Hellfire missiles.

Features and Benefits
  • Nose Mounted Sensor
  • New Control and Display Subsystem 5 (CDS5)
  • Improved MCPU
  • Integrated Common Missile Warning System (CMWS)
  • Dual Channel FADEC
  • Integrated Level II MUM-O (Manned-UnManned Operations)
  • Weapons
  • M3P .50 cal gun
  • 2.75 Rockets
  • Hellfire Missiles
  • Essential Specifications
    Cruise Speed at Max Gross Wt 108 kts 200 kph
    Range 210 nm 389 km
    Maximum Gross Weight 5,500 lbs 2,495 kg
    HOGE at 6K/95 5,500 lbs (max gross weight)
    Powerplant One (1) Honeywell HTS900 1,021 shp 761 kW

    • M3P .50 Cal. Machine Gun
    • 2.75” Rocket Pods (7 Shot)
    • Laser-guided Hellfire Missiles (optional)

    Digital Cockpit

    • Single pilot operable
    • 2 5x7 Color displays
    • 1 6x8 Color display
    • Dual, independent map channels
    • Control and Display Subsystem version 5 (CDS5)
    • SWB 4 and Beyond
    • Improved MCPU
    • Emergency Standby Attitude Indicator (ESIS)


    • 250 C30R/3 Engine (FADEC) dual channel FADEC
    • Bell 406 Transmission
    • CBM – Condition Based Maintenance

    Navigation Guidance

    • P3I EGI (GPS/INS)
    • World-Wide Navigation


    • AN/ARC-231 UHF/VHF/SATCOM (2)
    • AN/ARC-201 VHF FM (2)
    • Digital Communications (IDM 304)
    • Digital ICS
    • Improved Frequency Modulation (IFM)
    • APX-123 (mode 5)
    • Blue Force Tracker (BFT)
    • VMF Certified


    • Advanced FLIR, I2, Color TV
    • Std & Eyesafe LRF/D
    • Laser Pointer
    • Laser Spot Tracker
    • High Skids & Side Beam solution
    • Federated Level II UAS Teaming – on any display


    • Meet or exceed R&M requirements
    • Current and Predicted readiness rate (>80%)
    • Supportable in current Army system
    • Integrated Condition Based Maintenance (CBM)

    Armament and Lethality

    • M260-7 tube 2.75 FFAR Launcher (up to 2)
    • 0.50 cal (M3P)
    • MIL-STD-1760 Weapons Bus
    • Digital HELLFIRE Launcher
    • JAGM Integration
    • Modernized Rocket Launcher

    Aircraft Survivability Equipment

    • Integrated Common Missile Warning System (CMWS)
    • Integrated APR-39A(v)4 Pulse/Doppler Radar Warning Receiver
    • Integrated AN/AVR 2B Laser Warning Receiver


    • LW/Repairable Armored crew station (Seat back, side, bottom, combustor, fuel control)
    • 30 minute run dry gearboxes
    • Redundant cockpit flight controls
    • Ballistically tolerant blades and fuel cell
    • Hidden exhaust, small presented area, and low IR signature

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