Kiowa Warrior Heading For Greece
When one thinks of the Kiowa “Warrior” armed reconnaissance helicopter, images of the choppers flying over Vietnam immediately come to mind. Upcycling at its best, the Kiowa still has some life in it with reports suggesting that Greece has sent a Letter of Request (LoR) to the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) pertaining to 70 U.S. Army retired OH-58D Kiowa Warriors. The helicopters will be free through the Excess Defense Articles (EDA) programme, the purpose of which is to transfer excess defence equipment to foreign governments or international organisations. First deliveries should be expected by the end of the year. Of these rotary wing aircraft, 60 will join helicopter battalions and the remaining 10 will be dedicated to initial training of Army Air Force pilots at the Army Aviation School.
In March 2016, U.S. Major General (now Lieutenant General) Michael D. Lundy Commander of the Army Aviation Center of Excellence stated in a hearing on the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 and Oversight of Previously Authorized Programs before congress that OH-58D Kiowa Warriors are being made available to partner nations through Foreign Military Sales (FMS). In February 2016, the first 16 aircraft for OH-58D FMS was signed with Croatia. He confirmed that additional FMS cases with Greece, Tunisia, and Austria were in various stages of negotiations. In mid-2017, Lieutenant General Alkiviadis Stefanis, Chief of the Hellenic Army, General Staff met with his American counterpart General Mark A. Milley in Washington to discuss the Kiowa as well as 15 Boeing CH-47 Chinooks.
Greece will be financially responsible for training, spare parts for two years worth of operations, support, and transportation estimated at $40/45 million, a huge saving from what would have been a cost of $294.5 million. Transfers of this nature enhance relationships between countries with both parties in a win-win situation – the U.S. meeting its foreign policy and national security objectives by assisting a NATO ally in improving their security and Greece equipping itself to protect its borders and ultimately providing stability in the region. U.S. naval base in Souda Bay in Greece is of strategic importance to the U.S. and Greece in turn plays an important role in regional security in the Balkans. The Kiowa has reconnaissance, observation/scout, surveillance, target acquisition and designation, and special operations forces anti-tank, anti-surface vessel, and troop assault gunship capabilities.
OH-58Ds were developed under the programme Prime Chance with work initiated in September 1987 with the goal of deployment to the Persian Gulf to participate in the Kuwaiti tanker reflagging exercise. 1990 saw the first fully integrated Bell OH-58D armed Kiowa Warrior prototype fly at Bell Helicopter’s Flight Research Center. In 1999, the U.S. Army received its final conversion deliveries. By 2012, the OH-58 Kiowa Warrior achieved two million flight hours.
Written by Sylvia Caravotas (Satovarac Consulting) for OIDA