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The Kiowa going away is looking more and more likely.


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http://www.armytimes.com/article/20131209/NEWS04/312090006/Army-Plans-Scrap-Kiowa-Helo-Fleet

 

WASHINGTON Army leaders are considering scrapping its entire fleet of Bell Helicopter OH-58 Kiowa Warrior helicopters, while pulling the National Guards Boeing AH-64 Apaches into the active-duty force to fill the scout helicopter role as the Army seeks to fulfill its longer-term requirement of a newly developed armed aerial scout, according to several Army and defense industry sources.

 

The plan also calls for giving active Black Hawk helicopters to the Guard, while taking half of the Guards Lakota fleet, using them as active-duty trainers and scrapping its Jet Rangers.

 

While a final decision has yet to be made, the industry sources had the impression that the deal was all but done.

 

The deal would be done in the interest of cutting costs and reducing the number of different helicopter types in the Army, but questions remain about the affordability of using the Apache to fill the scout role. Army leadership had already rejected the idea in the early 1990s in favor of the now-canceled Comanche, and expressed doubts about it in a 2011 analysis of alternatives (AoA) document.

 

The December 2011 AoA for the Armed Aerial Scout (AAS) program which until last year was envisioned as the eventual replacement for the Kiowa concluded that fielding the AH-64D Block III to the services armed reconnaissance squadrons to replace the Kiowa would be at least 50 percent more expensive than the currently programmed [recon squadrons].

 

The Army also concluded that the AH-64 requires significantly more maintenance personnel than the other mixes analyzed.

 

Whats more, a study conducted by the Logistics Management Institute recently estimated that in recent operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, if the Army used an Apache in the Kiowa scout role, it would have cost an additional $4 billion in fuel, maintenance and operating costs.

 

Still, the Army is in a difficult position, one defense industry source said. The Armed Aerial Scout AoA said that the most affordable and capable option was Kiowa linked with the Shadow UAV. But the AoA also said that the most capable immediate solution is an Apache, so theres two sides of this argument. So the Army really is making decisions around cost.

 

This is a budget-driven plan, said Col. Frank Tate, the Armys chief of aviation force development. We are in a fiscally constrained environment, which requires us to make hard choices, but we need to also make smart choices. In developing this plan, everything was on the table.

 

Tate added that if we go with the overall plan, it would save approximately $1 billion a year in direct operating and sustainment cost. However, that does not take into account the savings in the out-years by divesting the OH-58Ds, OH-58A/Cs and TH-67s [trainers] from the Army aviation fleet.

 

Once the Army divests itself of its 338 active-duty and 30 National Guard Kiowas and pulls Apaches from the National Guard, the service will then provide the Guard with Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters in order to give the Guard more capability as it conducts its homeland defense and disaster response missions.

 

The Army has 570 Apaches, while the Guard has 192 and the Army Reserve has 48, according to information provided by the service.

 

The goal is to have a total of 690 AH-64E Apaches in the Army, officials said, while the Guard and reserve will have no Apaches of any model.

 

The Guard is also expected to gain 111 Black Hawks from the active duty, while the reserve will receive 48, and the end-state calls for 1,033 Black Hawk helicopters in the active Army, 960 in the Guard and 142 in the reserve.

 

But the plan isnt sitting so well with everyone in the Guard.

 

Col. Tim Marsano, spokesman for the Idaho National Guard, wrote in an email that losing the Apaches would entail a significant loss of manning, combat capability and a long tradition of combat aviation in the Idaho Army National Guard. We would like to keep this mission.

Edited by akscott60
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I guess I could say "I told you so" back in September

 

http://helicopterforum.verticalreference.com/topic/17172-future-of-oh-58-program/

 

but that would just be mean.

 

I have occasional personal conversations with certain people. I disseminate what I can without compromising. Unfortunately, this article is pretty spot on with what key leaders are saying behind closed doors and now, somewhat, publicly.

 

I like the Kiowa but I will assert that no matter how much you newbies might like it, you'd be a moron to select it.

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Its quite funny to see how vast the different opinions are on this topic. I was in a Gen Cody brief last week who said very confidently when asked the Kiowa was going no where. He referenced the discussions at the Pentagon and Administration level he was privy to.

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Several ideas for those that have selected Kiowas already.

 

One possibility - Congratulations, you are an Apache pilot.

 

Another possibility - You are still trained as a Kiowa pilot. When Kiowas go away, so do you.

 

Another possibility - You are still trained as a Kiowa pilot. When Kiowas go away, you transition to a new airframe. Congratulations, you're former classmates are now your IPs teaching you how to fly another helicopter. By the way, that is your peer group with whom you are competing for promotion.

 

Another possibility - You will spend your entire successful career as a Kiowa pilot because the big Army changes its mind once again. It has happened in the past. Personally, I don't see the program being extended much further into the future at this point though.

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General Cody (ret.) unfortunately doesn't have a whole lot of influence in the matter anymore. He would, however, have a large financial interest in seeing the Kiowa program continue. So would his shareholders. I am not surprised that his assertions would support that ideal.

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Just look at what they did with all the old cobra and loach pilots. I had a former SP who started his career in Cobras, flew hardly any hours as a WO1 / CW2 ad then transitioned to UH-60's.

 

Honestly, all you 58 guys that are worrying, don't. It's out of your hands and you are along for the ride.

 

You can absolutely never trust anything you hear in a Ft Rucker brief. That place has so many people that are full of a s hit.

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So far all I have seen officially are the courses of action they were exploring. Everything else has been article after article of speculation. If I have to fly something else then I will and I will still enjoy it. I hope I don't have to though. Being a PI sucks.

Edited by SBuzzkill
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UAV's are the future of Army Aviation, especially in regards to the recon mission. Commanders can send out 2 or 3 Shadows for 12 hour blocks and more effectively recon a much larger portion of the AO than two 58 teams. If the Shadow operator identifies anything of significance, the Commander has instant access to the feed in the TOC and can make a tactical decision real time. Combine the loiter time, ease of maintenance, the fairly low cost of the Shadow in comparison to a Kiowa, plus the ability to link up with a AH-64D and it makes the choice easy for higher ups. The recent additions to the Apache/Shadow make a 2 Gunship 1 Shadow threesome a very competent hunter/killer package on the battlefield.

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UAV's are the future of Army Aviation, especially in regards to the recon mission. Commanders can send out 2 or 3 Shadows for 12 hour blocks and more effectively recon a much larger portion of the AO than two 58 teams. If the Shadow operator identifies anything of significance, the Commander has instant access to the feed in the TOC and can make a tactical decision real time. Combine the loiter time, ease of maintenance, the fairly low cost of the Shadow in comparison to a Kiowa, plus the ability to link up with a AH-64D and it makes the choice easy for higher ups. The recent additions to the Apache/Shadow make a 2 Gunship 1 Shadow threesome a very competent hunter/killer package on the battlefield.

Yeah yeah...

 

That all sounds good in theory but...

The Army's UAV program is JV compared to the Air Force.

 

I don't know if you have seen a UAV in action but I have seen 58s find waaaaay more stuff than UAV operators.

 

I've also seen 58s trying to walk a UAV on to targets and the UAV couldn't find it.

 

UAV's are a great tool but they will never replace what the 58 can do.

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I don't know if you have seen a UAV in action but I have seen 58s find waaaaay more stuff than UAV operators.

 

 

 

 

 

I'm a 64 driver who just got home a few months ago from Afghanistan, a deployment where the 58's in our Task Force were sent home 4 months early and were replaced by Shadows. The Shadows are just as capable of doing the recon mission.

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I'm a 58 driver who is still in Afghanistan, a deployment where we arrived 4 months late to our Task Force because they changed their minds about leaving us behind. Anyways...

 

I have ears, eyes, and the ability to feel things. UAVs are completely unaware of anything that is happening outside their field of view. They're good at surveillance.

Edited by SBuzzkill
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I'm a 58 driver who deployed to a Task Force 4 months late because they needed us.

 

I have ears, eyes, and the ability to feel things. UAVs are completely unaware of anything that is happening outside their field of view. They're good at surveillance.

 

 

I agree fully, but it doesn't mean that the AO Commander doesn't prefer the ability to watch the video feed of a UAV over the intel provided by a 58 crew. Throw in 12 hours of loiter time for a UAV, and they are going to be the first choice for the majority of ground commanders.

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I think where the 58 comes into play is that over their entire loiter time there are 2 sets of eyes actively scanning their area. While the UAV might have a long loiter time and can see everything, that doesn't necessarily mean that there are going to be eyes on that monitor that whole time. All technicalities aside, simply having two sets of eyes fully focused on the mission at hand seems better than having a monitor showing a small field of view.

 

Disclaimer: This info is just coming from some dumb prior cav scout with a little time in Iraq and no military aviation experience.

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l3uller to expand on what you've said. Let's say I'm out conducting a surveillance mission and a bomb goes off near me. I hear and feel that bomb go off and immediately start looking for it. Within 10 seconds I've found it and have started to develop the situation. A UAV is not going to feel it or hear it. They're not going to get eyes on unless someone tells them about it. They're not going to be able to immediately call it up and provide a spot report. Nope. They're going to continue watching whatever they were watching until someone calls them up and says "hey a bomb just went off."

 

UAVs are useful and can do impressive things. But they're not a replacement for manned aircraft. They're just another layer of capability.

Edited by SBuzzkill
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My point is that there are very valuable benefits to having scouts around but because of the current operations we are involved in they aren't as apparent as they used to be. At least in our AO they recognized that we still had a place.

 

Oh, don't get me wrong, I had multiple days of fun two deployments ago working as a pink team or heavy team with our 58's down in RC South. I don't think there isn't anything better on the battlefield than a 58/Apache team or 2 58's and 1 Apache, but it's not what the ground force wants or sees as most effective on the battlefield. In today's world of instance information and access, the video feed is king. The video capability provided due to the link between the UAVs/Apaches/Fixed Wing/Ground Forces is hard to beat recon wise.

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