Bell Helicopter is building a new demonstrator aircraft to prove the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior can remain a viable, long-term option even as the US Army seeks a huge boost in performance.
Inside Bell's Xworx advanced programmes group, a re-acquired 206B1 JetRanger is being heavily modified. First, the aircraft will be converted into the OH-58D design on which the 206B is based.
Then Bell's staff will install a new engine with 50% more power than the 650shp Rolls-Royce Model 250 CR30. Honeywell has provided a 975shp HTS900-2, the engine originally built to power the now-cancelled Bell ARH-70 armed reconnaissance helicopter.
With the extra power, Bell's Xworx team hopes to show the army that the OH-58D can be upgraded to meet the army's potential demand for an aircraft that can hover out of ground effect at 6,000ft on a 35ºC (95ºF) day.