Five helicopters OH-58D Kiowa Warrior from the project of equipping the Armed Forces reconnaissance and attack helicopters in support of the Government and the Armed Forces of the United States, delivered today, Saturday 30 July 2016 at 93. Air Force Base of the Croatian Air Force and Air Defence ( CAF) in barracks Zemunik.
The helicopters, simulators and other related equipment arrived American plane C-5, which landed early in the morning, while the remaining helicopters and equipment arrive in a subsequent delivery.
Croatia had originally wanted to receive surplus Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters through the US Excess Defense Article (EDA) programme, whereby military equipment is gifted to allies for the cost of refurbishment, shipping, and support once in service. Talks were held in late 2014 and early 2015 between the Croatian MoD, the US military, and Sikorsky. The plan was that Croatia would receive the UH-60s and in turn donate its Mi-8/17s to Ukraine, though not much progress was made.
With the proposed UH-60 sale not going anywhere, Croatia instead decided to acquire the 16 OH-58Ds through the 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.
The OH-58 Kiowa Warrior conducts armed reconnaissance, security, target acquisition and designation, command and control, light attack and defensive air combat missions in support of combat and contingency operations. It replaces the AH-1 Cobra attack helicopters (those that function as scouts in air cavalry troops and light attack companies) and OH-58A and C Kiowas in air cavalry troops.
A single engine, four-bladed helicopter with advanced visionics, navigation, communication, and weapons and cockpit integration systems. The mast-mounted sight (MMS) houses a thermal imaging system, low-light television, laser rangefinder/designator, and an optical boresight system. These systems enable the Kiowa Warrior to operate by day and night and allow target acquisition and engagement at stand-off ranges and in adverse weather conditions.
The Armed OH-58D Kiowa Warrior, in service with the US Army, is supplied by Bell Helicopter Textron of Fort Worth, Texas. Around 375 Kiowas are in service and the single engine, double-bladed armed reconnaissance helicopter has been deployed in support of United States armed forces around the world including Haiti, Somalia and the Gulf of Arabia (Desert Storm and Desert Shield).
In 2002, Kiowas were deployed as part of Nato’s SFOR forces in Bosnia and, in 2003, 120 Kiowas were deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. 29 helicopters were lost during that operation. The US Army Kiowa fleet achieved a total of 750,000 combat hours until the end of 2011.