Bell OH-58 Kiowa

The Bell OH-58 Kiowa is a family of single-engine, single-rotor, military helicopters used for observation, utility, and direct fire support.Bell Helicopter manufactured the OH-58 for the United States Army based on its Model 206A JetRanger helicopter. The OH-58 has been in continuous use by the U.S. Army since 1969.

The latest model, the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior, is primarily operated in an armed reconnaissance role in support of ground troops. The OH-58 has been exported to Austria, Canada, the Dominican Republic, Taiwan, and Saudi Arabia. It has also been produced under license in Australia.

Role Observation/scout helicopter
National origin United States
Manufacturer Bell Helicopter
First flight Bell 206A: 10 January 1966
OH-58D: 6 October 1983
OH-58F: 26 April 2013
Introduction May 1969
Status In service
Primary users United States Army
Australian Army
Republic of China Army
Royal Saudi Land Forces
Produced 1966–1989
Number built 2,200
Unit cost OH-58D: US$4.9 million (1990)
OH-58D KW: US$6.7 million (1990)
KW retrofit: US$1.3 million (1990)
Developed from Bell 206


Mast mounted sight

The OH-58D introduced the most distinctive feature of the Kiowa family — the Mast Mounted Sight (MMS), which resembles a beach ball perched above the rotor system. The MMS by Ball Aerospace & Technologies has a gyro-stabilized platform containing a TeleVision System (TVS), a Thermal Imaging System (TIS), and a Laser Range Finder/Designator (LRF/D). These new features gave the aircraft the additional mission capability of target acquisition and laser designation in both day or night, and in limited-visibility and adverse weather.

The Mast Mounted Sight system was actually developed by the McDonnell Douglas Corp. in Huntington Beach, CA. Production took place primarily at facilities in Monrovia, CA. As a result of a merger with Boeing, and a later sale of the business unit, the program is currently owned and managed by DRS Technologies, with engineering support based in Cypress, CA, and production support taking place in Melbourne, FL.

Wire Strike Protection System

One distinctive feature of operational OH-58s are the knife-like extensions above and below the cockpit which is part of the passive Wire Strike Protection System. It can protect 90% of the frontal area of the helicopter from wire strikes that can be encountered at low altitudes by directing wires to the upper or lower blades before they can entangle the rotor blade or landing skids. The OH-58 was the first helicopter to test this system, after which the system was adopted by the US Army for the OH-58 and most of their other helicopters.



Data from U.S. Army Aircraft Since 1947

General characteristics

  • Crew: 1 pilot, 2 pilots, or 1 pilot and 1 observer
  • Length: 32 ft 2 in (9.80 m)
  • Rotor diameter: 35 ft 4 in (10.77 m)
  • Height: 9 ft 7 in (2.92 m)
  • Empty weight: 1,583 lb (718 kg)
  • Max. takeoff weight: 3,000 lb (1,360 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Allison T63-A-700 turboshaft, 317 shp (236 kW)
  • Fuselage length: 34 ft 4.5 in (10.48 m)


  • Maximum speed: 120 knots (222 km/h, 138 mph)
  • Cruise speed: 102 knots (188 km/h, 117 mph)
  • Range: 299 mi (481 km, 260 nmi)
  • Service ceiling: 19,000 ft (5,800 m)


  • Guns: M134 six-barreled 7.62mm minigun mounted on the M27 Armament Subsystem
    M129 40mm automatic grenade launcher mounted on the XM8 Armament Subsystem


OH-58D orthographical image.svg

Data from Jane's, U.S. Army Aircraft

General characteristics

  • Crew: 2 pilots
  • Length: 42 ft 2 in (12.85 m)
  • Main rotor diameter: 35 ft 0 in (10.67 m)
  • Height: 12 ft 1058 in (3.93 m)
  • Main rotor area: 14.83 ft2 (1.38 m2)
  • Empty weight: 3,829 lb (1,737 kg)
  • Gross weight: 5,500 lb (2,495 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Rolls-Royce T703-AD-700A or 250-C30R3 turboshaft, 650 hp (485 kW) each


  • Maximum speed: 149 mph (240 km/h)
  • Cruise speed: 127 mph (204 km/h)
  • Range: 161 miles (556 km)
  • Endurance: 2.0 hours
  • Service ceiling: 15,000 ft (4,575 m)


  • Each pylon (two total) can carry one of the following:
  • 1x M3P (or M296) .50 cal (12.7 mm) machine gun
  • 1x LAU-68 rocket launcher w/ seven 2.75" Hydra 70 rockets
  • 2x AGM-114 Hellfire missiles


Data from Bell Helicopter 

General characteristics

  • Crew: 2 pilots
  • Empty weight: 3,496 lb (1,586 kg)
  • Gross weight: 5,500 lb (2,495 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Rolls-Royce 250-C30R3 turboshaft, 650 hp (485 kW) each


  • Cruise speed: 109 (with weapons) mph (176 km/h)
  • Range: 161 miles (260 km)
  • Endurance: 2.0 hours


  • Each pylon (two total) can carry one of the following:
  • 1x M3P .50 cal (12.7mm) machine gun
  • 1x M260 rocket launcher w/ seven 2.75" Hydra 70 rockets
  • 2x AGM-114 Hellfire missiles
  • 2x JAGM (Joint Air-to-Ground Missile)


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