Bell is starting its voluntary flight demonstration for its Block II OH-58 Kiowa Warrior for the US Army's prospective Armed Aerial Scout programme.
"We started this week our portion of the voluntary flight demonstration," says Stephen Eppinette, Bell's business development manager. The demonstration will last for about two weeks, but the army will decide in December if it will actually proceed with a new programme.
Eppinette argues that Bell's upgraded Kiowa Warrior offers the US Army a lower cost, lower risk option than potential competitors. The service already has an established logistical and training system for the venerable OH-58. The new Block II version would be able to leverage those facilities, while offering far superior performance.
The Block II aircraft is equipped with the Honeywell HTS-900 turboshaft engine, generating 1,000shp (746kW). It also has the rotors and transmission from Bell's 407 model, Eppinette says. The tail comes from the Bell 427. The modifications should allow the helicopter to hover at 6,000ft (1,830m) and 35˚C (95˚F).
Bell is working with an incremental upgrade strategy for the aircraft. If acquired by the army, the Block II standard would eventually be upgraded to the Block III model, which would have more powerful and a new rotor system.