The Helicopter with a Strange Ball on Top
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After the success of American-made helicopters deployed during the Far East campaigns of WWII, the military envisioned and developed several rotary-wing aircraft tailored for various uses, and one of them is the Bell OH-58.
The OH-58 Kiowa was delivered to Army inventories in May 1969. It featured military instruments, multiple radios, and deflecting blades above the canopy and below the nose to avoid crashes in electrical wires.
It was also powered by an Allison T63-A-700 engine at 315 hp mounted atop and the rear of the passenger cabin. Apart from that, the cockpit offered all-around visibility thanks to large windscreens and the option to remove hinge side doors.
Perhaps, the most distinctive feature of this helicopter is the MMS, first introduced in the OH-58D variant in 1985. It’s a gyro-stabilized, electro-optical sensor system placed on a mast directly above the main motor. It features a TV camera, laser rangefinder, laser designator, and a thermal imaging system.
The MMS allows the Kiowa to find and identify targets even in long ranges, day and night, in adverse weather conditions.