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Aero India 2023

US Army to upgrade OH-58D Kiowa Warriors

OH-58D light helicopter. Photo: US Army.

ARLINGTON (BNS): The US Army will upgrade the existing fleet of OH-58D Kiowa Warrior scout aircraft with a new high-tech "F" model helicopter designed with improved avionics, better sensors and stepped-up overall performance capability.

The first "F" model flight is slated for next year.

"Overall, the Army plans to acquire 368 "F" model OH-58s, an aircraft which comes to life through a series of technical upgrades and changes to the current "D" model Kiowa," Lt. Col. Scott Rauer, product manager, Kiowa Warrior, said.

"The thrust of the improvements center around a Cockpit and Sensor Upgrade Programme, or CASUP, which improves the sensors and moves them to the nose of the aircraft, " Rauer explained.

The new sensor, called the AAS-53 Common Sensor Payload, includes cutting-edge sensing technologies such as an advanced infrared camera, a color Electro-Optical camera and an image intensifier similar to what is used by Night Vision goggles, he said.

The sensors are engineered to work together with laser designators and image trackers to pinpoint targets on the battlefield.

"This is a major leap ahead in situational awareness for the crew. The Common Sensor Payload does bring fusion technology where it can merge imagery. With this sensor, you can fuse imagery together to get the best picture," Rauer said.

"The "F" model Kiowa will be 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," Rauer explained.

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-58 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 "F" model Kiowa upgrade will ensure the aircraft's service life through 2025.


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