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Quad A 2017: Croatia performs first Kiowa Warrior flights

27th April 2017 - 14:31 GMT | by Alice Budge in London

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The Croatian Helicopter Squadron has performed the first test flights of its OH-58D Kiowa Warriors, purchased from excess US defence stock in 2015.

The Croatian Ministry of Defence announced on 24 April that test flights had been carried out at the 93rd Air Base under the guidance of US Air Force flight instructors and technicians.

According to the commander of the squadron, Lt Col Krešimir Ražov, the test flights, crewed by US experts and members of the Croatian Squadron, represent the final stage before the training of Croatian pilots on board the OH-58Ds can commence.

Lt Col Marin Žunić, chief aircraft engineer, added that the US-led engine and weapons inspection and systems training for the squadron's technicians 'was in its last phase'.

The final batch of the 16 helicopters was delivered by the US Air Force to the 93rd Air Base in Zemunik in December 2016.

The acquisition of the helicopters for a purchase price of $65 million was part of the Croatian government's efforts to replace its Soviet-produced defence equipment with 'modern Western-made assets', according to a statement from the MoD.

The OH-58Ds purchased from the US were manufactured from 2010 to 2012, and saw operational service with the US Army from 2012 to 2015.

All the helicopters retain their original weaponry – including a 12.7mm cannon, Hydra 70mm rockets and AGM-144 Hellfire missiles – as well as the helicopter's distinctive mast-mounted sight, communications and navigation systems.

As part of cost-saving measures and restructuring of its aviation branch, the US Army has divested the Kiowa Warrior and is now placing aircraft with allied armed forces.

Tunisia is receiving 24 excess defence article aircraft as part of a foreign military sale while another country poised to receive OH-58Ds is Greece.

According to the Pentagon, Greece requested 70 OH-58Ds along with two cockpit procedure trainers and an image generator, and two composite maintenance trainers. Congress authorised the offer in mid-April 2016.

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