Bell Is building a New Demonstrator Helicopter OH-58D Kiowa Warrior

Bell Helicopter is building a new demonstrator aircraft to prove theOH-58D Kiowa Warrior can remain a viable, long-term option even as theUS Army seeks a huge boost in performance.

Inside Bell's Xworx advanced programmes group, a re-acquired 206B1JetRanger is being heavily modified. First, the aircraft will beconverted into the OH-58D design on which the 206B is based.


Then Bell's staff will install a new engine with 50% more power thanthe 650shp Rolls-Royce Model 250 CR30. Honeywell has provided a 975shpHTS900-2, the engine originally built to power the now-cancelled BellARH-70 armed reconnaissance helicopter.

With the extra power, Bell's Xworx team hopes to show the army that theOH-58D can be upgraded to meet the army's potential demand for anaircraft that can hover out of ground effect at 6,000ft on a 35ºC(95ºF) day.

Michael Miller, executive director of Bell's military aircraftoperations, believes the engine upgrade will allow the Kiowa Warrior tomeet the army's target for hover at altitude. However, integrating amore powerful engine may not help the helicopter achieve the army'spossible endurance goal of 2h45min.

"I don't think it will hit that" performance target, Miller says.
But Bell wants to prove that the OH-58D has the growth capacity toapproach the army's emerging needs for a more powerful scout helicopter.

Integrating the HTS900-2 engine requires other major changes for theOH-58D, Miller says. For the demonstrator, Xworx is integrating thetransmission from the 407 and the tail rotor from the 427 helicopters.The engine cowling for the HTS900-2 also is significantly larger.

Miller declined to provide a timeline for first flight of thedemonstrator. A tour of the aircraft on the shop floor at Xworx showedthat the cabin structure is nearly complete, but the engine, powersystem and cockpit systems have not yet been integrated.

The full-scale demonstrator - a first for Bell in several years - willjoin several candidates for a possible future army contract.

The army is still considering options for an armed aerial scout (AAS)helicopter that may replace the OH-58D. An analysis of alternatives isscheduled to be completed by April 2011.

The Kiowa Warrior remains in heavy demand in operations in Afghanistanand Iraq, but the type's limits are showing. The OH-58D was introducedin the early 1980s as an interim scout helicopter, but two attempts toreplace it with the RAH-66 Comanche and ARH-70 Arapaho have failed.


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