Bell Helicopter, a Textron Inc. (NYSE: TXT) company, in partnership with Corpus Christi Army Depot and the Armed Scout Helicopter Project Management Office, delivered the first OH-58D Kiowa Warrior Wartime Replacement Aircraft to the United States Army at a special ceremony. The aircraft was the first of a contracted 19 in the Army's Wartime Replacement Aircraft program.
Colonel Michael Morgan accepted the aircraft on behalf of the 1st Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division of the United States Army and commended the efforts of the depot and Bell Helicopter.
"I'm impressed with the initiative which combines CCAD's aircraft depot level rebuild and Bell Helicopter's full aircraft cabin modernization for OH-58 Kiowa Warriors," said Col Morgan. "This initiative is providing cost effective solutions as we begin to navigate the sobering reality of resource constraints. This is an efficient solution to provide Kiowa Warriors to our Army."
The Army's Kiowa Warrior Wartime Replacement Aircraft Program is a combined effort between CCAD, Bell Helicopter, and the Armed Scout Helicopter Project Management Office to return the Army to its requirement of 368 OH-58 aircraft. Currently, the Army's fleet is down more than 40 aircraft from its authorized acquisition objective. The program takes an existing A model airframe and converts it to a D model aircraft. Bell has an additional 18 conversion cabins on contract with the USG with a second option for 10 - 21 more cabins in work.
Work on each aircraft begins at CCAD, where the aircraft is stripped down to a bare cabin. Bell Helicopter converts the cabin from an A model cabin to a D model cabin complete with a full wire harness, flight controls, and fuel cells. The modified cabin is returned to CCAD where the final work is completed on the aircraft. Work on the first cabin was done at Bell Helicopter's XworX facility in Ft. Worth, Texas. The second cabin is on schedule for delivery ahead of contract, out of Bell Helicopter's Military Aircraft Assembly and Delivery Center in Amarillo, TX during the second week in November. The remainder of Bell Helicopter's work on the program will be completed at the Amarillo facility.
"We are pleased with the success we have had with our Army programs," said Jim Schultz, Program Manager for OH-58D, Bell Helicopter. "We believe in the commitment we have to the war fighter and are willing to step up to the challenge to get these important aircraft back into the fleet."
As part of the Wartime Replacement Aircraft contract, Bell Helicopter is working on a contract option to restart a new production line of cabins. These cabins would provide a hot production line of new metal cabins in lieu of conversion cabins. Bell Helicopter built 39 OH-58D new production aircraft in the late 1990's for Taiwan.
In addition to work on this program, Bell Helicopter recently completed the last aircraft in the Army's OH-58D Safety Enhancement Program, a program that ran for 13 years on or ahead on contract schedule, and Bell is currently working on the Kiowa Warrior Cockpit and Sensor Upgrade Program. The successful execution of all these programs reflects the continued commitment Bell Helicopter has with the US Army.
With more than 750,000 fleet combat hours, the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior is a combat-proven aircraft that is safe, rugged and reliable, maintaining the highest operational tempo and readiness rate of any Army helicopter operating in Afghanistan and Iraq.
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