First Bell OH-58F Kiowa Warrior test aircraft completed, U.S. Army saves on in-house build
WASHINGTON – Completion of the U.S. Army’s first Bell OH-58F Kiowa Warrior helicopter at a prototype facility was announced at AUSA. The new variant of the Kiowa Warrior was designed and built by the Army’s Aviation and Missile Research Development and Engineering Center (AMRDEC), and instrumentation is now beginning for its first expected flight test in April.
The OH-58F is the first aircraft or new mission design series to be integrated by the Army itself. Lt. Col. Mat Hannah, Product Manager for the OH-58F commented on the system integration, "That in itself is a huge role. It saves about $37 million in development costs."
The 3,500-plus pound aircraft scaled in at about 50 pounds under its target weight and is almost 200 pounds lighter than its predecessor. Most of the weight loss is attributed to a lighter sensor and fewer, more efficiently routed wires.
Three more initial test helicopters will be built in Alabama, and are scheduled for delivery in March. Builds on production qualification aircraft will begin in January and be transferred to the Corpus Christi Army Depot around Q4 2013. Producing the aircraft in Corpus Christ is projected to save the Army roughly $550 million.
The first fully equipped deployable squadron of OG-58Fs is expected to be operational by 2016.