Compared to most other aircraft designers and manufacturers, the AVX Aircraft Company is relatively new to the game, though their bold concepts are anything but what you’d expect from a rookie in the aviation industry. Before the decision was taken to retire all Kiowas across the Army, AVX offered a modification to the OH-58 that would bring about a drastic visual change, while hypothetically boosting the small helo’s capabilities beyond what it currently offers.
According to AVX, converting Kiowas from the OH-58D to the OH-58F+/AVX standard would be a fairly quick procedure, taking two basic stages. The first stage consists of removing the transmission, tail boom, tail rotor setup, mast, rotors and the electro-optical pod that sits atop the main rotor assembly. The second stage would see the installation of a dual three-bladed coaxial rotor system mated to a specially-designed AVX transmission and rotor mast, and a new tail boom with twin fans on either side. The pod would be replaced by a chin-mounted nose sight, featuring all of the pod’s original capabilities.
What would this mean for the Kiowa? AVX claims a +20% increase in both speed and range, and a 30% increase in fuel efficiency. In an armed/recon configuration, the upgrade would allow it to remain on station longer as well, with over double the OH-58D’s current endurance. Additionally, the OH-58F+ would be able to climb to (and fly at) higher altitudes and operate in hotter environments (in terms of temperature, not volatility). This would hypothetically meet and exceed what the Army expect[ed] of the Kiowa. And, according to AVX, for a relatively low price, compared to other proposed Kiowa upgrades. Though it’s a concept, it seems to be a fairly solid idea, albeit one we’re likely not going to see due to the Army’s intention to retire the Kiowa from the Aviation Branch fully, and replace it with a combination of UAVs and heavier attack helos (i.e. the AH-64D and AH-64E). However, AVX claims that this unique modification isn’t just for the Kiowa family- it can be used for other rotary platforms as well.
Check out the proposal video below! To learn more about AVX and their ideas for the future of rotary aviation in the military, click here: AVX Aircraft Company.
Please note that this article is not an endorsement of AVX’s modifications to the Kiowa!