Corpus Christi, TX - Corpus Christi Army Depot sent its first OH-58D Kiowa Warrior back to the fight during a roll-out ceremony held in the depot's Hangar 44, Oct. 14, 2010. The unprecedented OH-58D crash battle damage repair is the first step to increasing the number of Kiowa Warriors at a time when cost-effective measures are critical to support the war effort.

The repair program began November 2008 when CCAD, together with the Armed Scout Helicopter Program Office, Aviation and Missile Command, Aviation and Missile Research Development & Engineering Center and Bell Helicopter, inducted a crash damaged OH-58D aircraft to be repaired.

"When it comes to a soldier on the ground looking to someone in the sky, they can count on the KW," said Col Christopher Carlile, CCAD Commander. "Recently, a KW spent seven hours in close combat support of an engineer unit hit with a complex IED ambush. It covered continually, even to the point of having to use an M-4 Carbine after running out of rockets and other ammunition."

The Kiowa Warrior is a single-engine, two-seat reconnaissance and direct-fire support aircraft that has logged more than 600,000 combat hours between Iraq and Afghanistan, where it battles sand, snow and high altitudes.

"That type of support is what Army aviation is about," Carlile added. "That's the dedication our branch has to our ground soldiers and the joint fight."

Used extensively in Afghanistan, the OH-58 Kiowa Warriors are in short supply due to their supposed phase-out and replacement by the Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter, a program that has since been shut down.

The Army, with 330 of 368 helicopters on-hand and losing approx. 5 per year since 2001 wants Kiowa Warriors as an integral piece of the Combat Aviation Brigade for several more years and instituted a Sustainment Maintenance Program. The SMP is part of the Army's effort to reduce platform sustainment costs and contain the expense of replacing aging helicopters.

"This aircraft that the CCAD team put together is a testament to this workforce's dedication and patriotism, how they support the Warfighter," said Carlile. "This team knows our contribution to the fight is not based on our proximity to the battlefield."

The program's resurgence also means that parts are in short supply. Working with Aircraft Production technicians and engineers, the depot's Local Manufacturing Division ramped up quickly, initially machining two matched cabin roof beams needed to provide structural integrity for the cabin fuselage and transmission.

"CCAD helped us find and fabricate very hard to find parts that will actually help out the rest of the fleet," said Lt. Col. Scott Rauer, Kiowa Warrior Program Manager.

Local Manufacturing operates mills, lathes, and Computer Numerical Controlled (CNC) machines fabricating parts for other helicopter programs and now includes the KW. The shop recently installed a fluid cell press-a device that can create structural components in minutes rather than hours.

"They can manufacture those hard to find parts here, at the depot, or they can find other people who can do it for us," Rauer added.

CCAD's team of maintenance, repair, and overhaul artisans work in concert to generate an asset for Army Aviation that is equal to or better than a new one. The CCAD team presently repairs OH-58 Kiowa Warrior, UH-60 Black Hawk, AH-64D Apache, and CH-47 Chinooks crash or battle damaged airframes, returning them to the fight.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16