Bell Helicopter, a Textron Inc. company (NYSE: TXT) announced today itsÂ OH-58 Block II demonstrator successfully proved hover out of ground effect performance that exceeds the maximum gross aircraft weight of 5,500 lbs at 6k95 during test flights conducted in Colorado.
â€œWe completed several test flights at several different altitudes and temperatures, each to prove the OH-58 could perform at minimum altitude of 6,000 feet on a 95 degree day,â€ said Jeff Lowinger, executive vice president Engineering and Xworx for Bell Helicopter. â€œEach test was more impressive than the last. The OH -58 exceeded our most optimistic expectations.â€
The Block II demonstrator conducted its first flight at Bell Helicopterâ€™s Xworx research and development facility in Fort Worth, Texas, on April 14, 2011. Bell Helicopter developed this aircraft with its own resources and at no cost to the government.
Bell Helicopter is developing this OH-58 Block II fleet representative demonstrator to facilitate prototyping activities in anticipation of a U.S. Army future requirement of 6K/95 performance.Â The Block II OH-58 provides an attractive, cost efficient alternative for the U.S. Army and U.S. taxpayer, and will demonstrate Bell helicopterâ€™s ability to meet or exceed all performance requirements for the Armyâ€™s Armed Aerial Scout.
The Block II demonstrator takes an OH-58 Kiowa Warrior and makes it a fast fielding, low risk and lowest cost solution to achieve 6,000ft and 95 degree performance hover out of ground effect at maximum gross weight. The â€œhigh-hotâ€ performance can be attained with propulsion and drive train upgrades to the existing platform using a Honeywell HTS 900 engine. This upgrade program builds upon the F model Cockpit and Sensor Upgrade Program (CASUP) improvements by adding a new engine, transmission and rotor system.
â€œBy continuing to upgrade the OH-58F into a Block II program, the Army will save money that they can invest in future technologies or future platforms,â€ said Mike Gleason, Block II project manager. â€œIt will also give the Army and the tax payer a return for the money invested in the F model program.â€
â€œAlong with the performance upgrades, the Block II will adopt fully integrated condition-based maintenance (CBM) technologies, said Stephen Eppinette, Army business development manager for Bell Helicopter. The Block II will have will have higher performance, increased safety, and greater operational readiness while reducing life-cycle costs.â€
With more than 750,000 fleet combat hours, the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior is a military certified, combat- proven aircraft that is safe, rugged, and reliable; maintaining the highest operational readiness rate of any Army helicopter operating in Afghanistan and Iraq while simultaneously having the highest operational tempo.
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