Croatian Air Force Conducts Live Firing from OH-58D Kiowa Warrior Armed Reconnaissance Helicopters

The Croatian Air Force OH-58D Kiowa Warrior armed reconnaissance helicopters have successfully conducted the first tactical live firing and rocket launching at the Eugen Kvaternik Military Range in the central Croatian. It was carried out by pilots of Helicopter Squadron of the 93rd Croatian Air Force and Air Defence. This group firing and launching on Kiowa helicopters follows the successful completion of the first round of live firing and rocket launching in September. Each team comprised of Croatian Air Force pilots flying two OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopters. Conducted by Kiowa helicopters flying in pairs, the firing involved the 12.7mm machine gun, the Hydra 70mm unguided rockets and Heckler-Koch G-36CV guns. It can also perform transport and utility roles using equipment kits installed externally on existing hard points.

The Croatian Air Force Kiowa Warrior, sometimes referred to by its acronym KW, is the armed version of the OH-58D Kiowa. The main difference that distinguishes the Kiowa Warrior from the original AHIP aircraft is a universal ωεɑρσռs pylon found mounted on both sides of the aircraft. These pylons are capable of carrying combinations of AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, air-to-air Stinger (ATAS) missiles, 7-shot 2.75 inches (70 mm) Hydra-70 rocket pods, and an M296 .50 caliber machine gun. The standard of performance for aerial gunnery from an OH-58D is to achieve at least one hit out of 70 shots fired at a wheeled vehicle 800 to 1,200 m (2,625 to 3,937 ft) away. The Kiowa Warrior upgrade also includes improvements in available power, navigation, communication and survivability, as well as modifications to improve the aircraft’s deployability.

As a consequence of the 2013 Aviation Restructure Initiative, some 340 divested U.S. Army OH-58D Kiowas were made available through Excess Defense Article and foreign military sales (FMS) programs. The Croatian Air Force decided to acquire the 16 OH-58D Kiowa Warrior armed reconnaissance helicopters through the Excess Defense Articles (EDA) system. This deal passed the US Congress in late summer 2015. Croatia already fields seven Bell 206B JetRanger helicopters, on which the OH-58D is based, and so already has much of the training and support infrastructure in place. Croatia received the first batch of 5 OH-58Ds at the Zadar-Zemunik air base on 30 June 2016.

The Bell OH-58 Kiowa is a family of single-engine, single-rotor, military helicopters used for observation, utility, and direct fire support. Bell Helicopter manufactured the OH-58 for the United States Army based on its Model 206A JetRanger helicopter. The OH-58 was in continuous U.S. Army service from 1969 to 2017, when it was replaced in these roles by the Boeing AH-64 Apache and Eurocopter UH-72 Lakota. The latest model, the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior, is primarily operated in an armed reconnaissance role in support of ground troops. The OH-58 has been exported to Austria, Canada, Croatia, the Dominican Republic, Taiwan, Saudi Arabia, and Greece. It has also been produced under license in Australia.