The U.S. Army announced just recently that it wants to buy armed scout helicopters instead of extending the life of its aging fleet of OH-58 Kiowa Warrior helicopters. Army and Petagon officials must still sign off on the idea, according to a story by Reuters Nov. 30.
That effort will be the Army's third attempt to start replacing the OH-58 helicopters built by Bell Hellicopter -- based in Fort Worth, according to Reuters
Bell is in the final stages of a 14-year program to upgrade the Kiowa with newer technology and a much improved cockpit safety features, including crash-worthy seats and cockpit air bags, the Star-Telegram reported last year.
Kiowas have been around for a long time.
The first time an Army helicopter pilot flew the OH-58 Kiowa in war was in 1969 during the height of Vietnam. It's been 40 years since the Army last received brand new OH-58 from Bell's Fort Worth factory.
The Army uses the Kiowas for reconnaissance, surveillance and close fire support. The aircraft are equipped with a machine gun and can carry rocket pods.