A needed OH-58D Kiowa Warrior was returned to the fight when Corpus Christi Army Depot Commander, Col. Christopher B. Carlile handed the newly repaired KW's log books to 1st Infantry Division Combat Aviation Brigade Commander, Col. John M. Morgan during a transfer ceremony held during the Luther Jones Professional Aviation Forum at the American Bank Center October 26, 2011. The KW is destined for the 1st Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment,1st Combat Aviation Brigade out of Ft. Riley Kansas.
"I salute the endeavor that brings us together; the forward thinking, determination, and hard work of depot and industry as they team to turn out mission capable armed reconnaissance helicopters for the Warfighter," said Morgan, 1st Combat Aviation Brigade commander. "Every single Kiowa Warrior is counted on in the fight."
In 2010, Morgan, a highly skilled OH-58 pilot, led his squadron of Kiowas directly over the enemy lines at low altitude, to draw fire from Taliban away from US Forces pinned down by the Taliban. He and his copilot, once their ammunition was exhausted, remained on station firing an M-4 rifle in to keep the Taliban at bay. These actions earned Morgan the Silver Star, the nation's third highest war-time medal for valor.
"This is a great day for the Army, to be handing over a new Kiowa Warrior to take to the mission and at that to be handing it over to Col. Morgan, a recognized American hero," said Maj. Gen. James Rogers, Commanding General, Aviation and Missile Command. "It takes an integrated team approach with the Army and industry to reproduce a new Kiowa at cost-effective rate for our Soldiers."
This is CCAD's third OH-58D Kiowa Warrior, but the first War Replacement Program aircraft to return to the fight, a crucial program to increase the number of Kiowa Warriors at a time when cost-effective measures are critical to support the war effort.
The Wartime Replacement Aircraft (WRA) Program is an Army initiative to replace OH-58Ds that have been either destroyed or deemed uneconomically repairable and therefore must be attrited from the force.
"Equally impressive is the fact that this initiative is providing cost effective solutions as we begin to navigate the sobering reality of resource constraints," added Morgan. "These are efficient solutions to provide Kiowa Warriors to our Army."
The Army is replacing wartime losses suffered by the OH-58D fleet by taking existing "A" model cabins and upgrading them to "D" model cabins and capabilities. This is done through an element of the WRA program called the "A2D" conversion program, which also allows the Integrated Materiel Management Center (IMMC) to meet their OPS29 requirements and have "D" cabins on the shelf and on hand to repair damaged OH-58D aircraft. The cabin is the aircraft fuselage extending from the nose to the tail boom attachment point. The cabin also includes the complete wiring harness, firewalls, rotor support structure, engine mounts, oil system, fuel system, hydraulic system (partial), environmental system, flight controls, instrument panel, glareshield, and doors.
"What this means to the Army is an opportunity to give combat forces the ability to have armed reconnaissance over our soldiers', sailors', airmen's and marines' heads during combat and it protects and saves their lives," said Carlile. "That's why everyone loves this aircraft because when they look up it's right over their shoulder in the fight with them. It's just like having a big brother there."
The Kiowa Warrior is a single-engine, two-seat reconnaissance and direct-fire support aircraft that has logged more than 600,000 combat hours between Iraq and Afghanistan, where it battles sand, snow and high altitudes. Used extensively in Afghanistan, the OH-58 Kiowa Warriors are in short supply due to their supposed phase-out and replacement by the Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter, a program that has since been shut down.
The repair program began in November 2008 when CCAD, together with the Project Office for Armed Scout Helicopters (PM ASH), Aviation and Missile Command (AMCOM), Aviation and Missile Research Development and Engineering Center (AMRDEC) and Bell Helicopters, inducted a crash damaged OH-58D aircraft to be repaired. With the first successful rebuild of the battle-damaged Kiowa and the expertise in place, the Army will continue this effort.
CCAD is working with Bell Aircraft Corporation, the original Kiowa Warrior manufacturer, to repair and rebuild OH-58D Kiowa Warriors to a like new (zero time/zero hour) standard, assuring Army aviation readiness in the 21st Century without replacement of these aging systems.
Every Kiowa Warrior is an integral part of the Army's force projection in theater and will be a critical piece of Combat Aviation Brigades for several more years. The program manager instituted the program as part of the Army's effort to reduce platform sustainment costs and contain the expense of replacing aging helicopters.
Article by Ed Mickley, Army.mil