Bell Helicopter has begun converting OH-58A Kiowa cabins into OH-58D Kiowa Warrior cabins, the company announced here at Farnborough. The aim of the program is to replace OH-58Ds that have been damaged beyond repair.
In April 2009, the U.S. Army exercised a contract option to have Bell convert one cabin, and to engineer a cabin build line. The first cabin conversion is now scheduled for delivery next year to Corpus Christi Army Depot. In May, the Army issued a sole-source solicitation for the conversion of more cabins–up to 66 cabins could be required.
Bell is also providing crash damage repairs. One Kiowa Warrior has been repaired and delivered to the army. Another two are undergoing repair. The company is simultaneously continuing to work on OH-58Ds under a safety improvement program. In March, the Army awarded it a contract to modify a final 30 aircraft. They are scheduled to be completed by the end of next year, bringing the total number of safety-improved Kiowa Warriors to 371.
Meanwhile, Bell is ramping up H-1 production. In June, it received a $546 million contract for Lot 7 in the U.S. Marine Corps H-1 Upgrade program. The contract includes 18 UH-1Y utility helicopters and 11 AH-1Z attack aircraft. Lot 7 aircraft deliveries are to begin in 2011.