OH-58D Kiowa: Versatile Helicopter for Light Observation Missions

The AH-58 Kiowa Warrior: A Versatile Asset in Modern Warfare

The AH-58 Kiowa Warrior helicopter stands as a pinnacle of modern military technology, boasting a formidable array of capabilities crucial for reconnaissance, security, target acquisition, and designation, command and control, as well as light attack and defense in air combat missions in support of combat and contingency operations. It inherits the legacy of the 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.

A single-engine, four-bladed helicopter, armed to the teeth with advanced avionics, navigation, communication, and weapons and cockpit integration systems. The mast-mounted sight (MMS) houses a thermal imaging system, low-light television, laser rangefinder/designator, and an optical boresight system. These systems enable the Kiowa Warrior to operate both by day and night and engage targets at standoff ranges and in adverse weather conditions.

The Kiowa Warrior’s highly accurate navigation system provides precise target location that can be sent to other aircraft or artillery via its advanced digitized communications system. Battlefield imagery can be transmitted to provide near-real-time situational awareness to command and control elements. The Laser Designator can provide autonomous designation for the Laser HELLFIRE or remote designation for other missile guidance processes.

The Kiowa Warrior is equipped with two interchangeable weapon pylons. Each pylon can be armed with two HELLFIRE missiles, seven HYDRA 70 rockets, two air-to-air Stinger missiles, or one .50 caliber fixed forward machine gun. The armament systems combine to provide anti-armor, anti-personnel, and anti-aircraft capabilities at standoff ranges.

The Kiowa Warrior is rapidly deployable by air and can be fully operational within minutes of arrival. Two Kiowa aircraft can be transported in a C-130 aircraft. For air transportability, the vertical tail fins, blades, and the horizon stabilizer are folded, and the mast-mounted sight, the IFF antenna, and the lower wire are removed. The landing gear can kneel to decrease the height.

Although Kiowa Warrior fielding is complete, the army is continuously investing in the safety and performance modifications to keep the aircraft safe and performance optimized throughout its service life. The mast-mounted sight enables the Kiowa Warrior to fight both day and night, at the maximum range of its weapons systems – and with minimum exposure. The aircraft remains compromised during all but a few seconds of an autonomous engagement, making it considerably more survivable than gunships with nose-mounted sensors.

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