WASHINGTON, May 2 (UPI) -- The U.S. Army reports the newly updated OH-58F Kiowa scout helicopter, oringallly built by Bell Helicopter, has performed a ceremonial first flight.
The upgrade, which converts D models of the helicopter, is the first major modernization to the aircraft in 20 years. It consists of a new digital cockpit and modifications to sensors, including the sensor ball, which has been moved from a mast mount on the rotor to the front of the aircraft.
Col. John Lynch, Training and Doctrine Command capability manager for the Kiowa Warrior, said the change is a result of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"We are really doing a lot more maneuvering flight both in urban and non-urban environments and the sight quickly reaches the stop limits and it is very difficult to track targets when you are flying in an environment where you are getting much closer to the enemy than we ever envisioned with the mast-mounted sensor in the Cold War-era," he said.
The flight took place at Redstone Arsenal in Alabama.
The Army is considering procuring a replacement for its Kiowas or extending their life with a complete overhaul.