Army unit receives first of Bell Helicopter’s rebuilt OH-58 Kiowa Warriors | Airlines and …

Reinforcements are on the way for the Army’s beleaguered scout helicopter units, thanks to a partnership between the Army and Bell Helicopter.

On Thursday, the Army delivered the first totally rebuilt OH-58D Kiowa Warrior scout/attack helicopter to the 1st Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment at the Corpus Christi Army Depot.

The helicopter is one of about 50 that the Army and Fort Worth-based Bell are slated to produce over the next five years to replace OH-58s taken out of service because of combat or accidents.

With no purchases of new scout helicopters likely for years, the Army has long been maintaining and upgrading the heavily used OH-58 fleet and can now fill the holes with rebuilt aircraft.

via Army unit receives first of Bell Helicopter’s rebuilt OH-58 Kiowa Warriors | Airlines and ….

Army unit receives first of Bell Helicopter's rebuilt OH-58 Kiowa Warriors | Airlines and ...

It’s pretty damn sad that the Army is having to pull Vietnam era OH-58A’s out of storage and rebuild them to “D-Kiowa Warrior” configuration. No, I’m not arguing for new-build D models. And I have some hope the upcoming “F” model will sustain life in the scout helicopter community. But the “F” is a rebuild of existing “D” models as well. Which were rebuilds of “A” and “C” models. The scouts are getting a touch old.

We’ve been bustin’ on the other services for their inability to manage procurement programs for years now. LCS and F-35 come to mind.

But the Army has issues of its own. The Future Combat Systems debacle was the big example. But the replacement program for the OH-58 was supposed to be the ARH-70, and it should have been generally a low risk program. Take the existing Bell 407 airframe, itself an evolution of the Bell 206 that gave us the Kiowa, and add sensors and weapons. Easy peasy. How that program fell to pieces is beyond me. I’m not an engineer or an aviator. I know there are always challenges, but the collapse of that program was a big surprise to me.

Maybe Outlaw will show up and school me. Please?


9 thoughts on “Army unit receives first of Bell Helicopter’s rebuilt OH-58 Kiowa Warriors | Airlines and …”

  1. Nothing to do with problem-solving . . . everything to do with politics.

    Kiowas are an outstanding asset and they already exist. Commanches would have been a superior asset, but none were built yet.

    While there were serious problems with the vehicle components of FCS – most of the designs unnecessary – Land Warrior would have provided for the Infantry a system that would multiply their combat effectiveness and survivability by generations of advancement. Soldiers liked what it could do, it was evolving into a fully combat ready system, but it was for the Infantry . . .

    And the beancounters and congress HATE the Infantry. Even the Army HATES the Infantry . . .

    At least some remnants like Blue Force Tracker remain.

  2. I found it surprising as well. From what I could determine the downfall of the program was the bane of so many programs in the military these days, refusing to freeze the specs. They allow a continuing larding of the program and change orders are expensive. Successful acquisition programs freeze the design and build more capability into the follow on models. The Army didn’t force a freeze, so costs ran away from them, and instead of getting a good first effort, they got nothing instead. Great, huh?

    Alas, when Politicians, uniformed or elected, get involved, things go to hell pretty quickly.

    1. Quartermaster nails it. Big Army’s acquisition eyes are bigger than it’s fiscal stomach. FCS, MEADS, SLAMRAAM, all dead due to overruns and a desire for newness and mission creep.

    2. Maybe we should have GICOP tattooed on the forehead of everyone in a procurement office.

  3. The ARH-70 fell apart much like the Comanche before it because the Army kept moving the goalposts. Costs go up every time you change a design or want something new added because engineers, designers, suppliers etc. all need to be paid. The Army would never let the contractor freeze the design, and if they did, they then went back and said never mind we want THIS now. For instance Bell put a sight on the aircraft that met program requirements but the Army then told them that it had to be a common sensor which wasn’t the sight that Bell had used, so Bell had to go back and write new software, do new wiring etc…so the cost goes up and the timeline stretches ever longer. Multiply that by 20 and you get an idea of what went on. Of course Bell had issues of its own, so add that to the mess as well.

    I was told by some people who used to work at Bell that every time they had a meeting with the Army it was always a different person and that person wasn’t read in on what was agreed to previously.

    It isn’t widely publicized but the new AH-64D Longbows are re-built A models as well. Additionally they keep adding stuff nobody I know asked for and ignoring or putting off stuff that we have continually asked for since 2004.

    I know some people who work at Redstone, where Army aviation acquisition is managed and they try to do their best…but we aren’t exactly batting above the Mendoza Line lately. We were really better served, I believe, by letting several contractors build prototypes and compete for the contract. I hope in the future we return to that.

    1. Sir, that is just crazy talk . . . applying common sense and logic as a means of solving a problem like that . . .

      They should put you away, you might be contagious!

      Sincerely, Longbows helped us out more than once, and not just with their ordnance, very grateful for all their efforts on behalf of the Infantry.

  4. Roundhammer, most of us in the attack helicopter community take our job of supporting the infantry VERY seriously. Being a senior aviator I took the time to make sure all our junior pilots knew just what was expected of them in that regard. I think my BN’s performance in battle speaks for itself and our commitment to the job done for the guys on the ground.

  5. As a professional Acquisition Life Cycle Logistician for the US Army, I would have to say Crazyhorse nailed it. When a system is being developed the Combat/Capabilities Developer (i.e., TRADOC School house, in this case AVN SCHOOL at Rucker) come up with a requirements document. This document is reviewed to see if the new requirement(s) can be met by (1) changes to doctrine/TTPs (cheapest, quickest), (2) does the capability already exist within the services, (3) decides on a new program or modifying an existing program. Once Big Army says go forth the funding is generated, the combat developer provides requirements with threshold standards and objective standards for key performance parameters and the materiel developer (PMs/Acquisition types) turn to industry to bid and produce the product. As much as possible we try to use already exiting government furnished equipment (GFE) to keep costs down and the logistics doable. Keep in mind the greatest amount (70%+) of a system’s cost over its life cycle is after it has been produced and sent to the field. So when the combat developer adds additional requirements costs rise not just for that one part but for that one part over the 20+ year life cycle of its use in the service.

    So the real key to all of this is figuring out what you need, stick to it and keep the Good Idea Fairies locked up.

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