The Bell OH-58 Kiowa Warrior helicopters of the Croatian Air Force have received software upgrades for the use of Hellfire missiles, and the pilots have undergone conversion training previously, using drill missiles. The Bell OH-58 Kiowa is a family of single-engine, single-rotor, military helicopters used for observation, utility, and direct fire support. Bell Helicopter manufactured the OH-58 for the United States Army based on its Model 206A JetRanger helicopter. The latest model, the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior, is primarily operated in an armed reconnaissance role in support of ground troops.
The Croatian air force has received its first batch of ex-US Army Bell OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopters, which were ferried to Zadar-Zemunik air base on the Adriatic coast on 30 June 2016. The donation of the rotorcraft is worth some $14.5 million, and covers the acquisition of 16 Kiowa Warrior examples, three simulators and spares. The delivery was agreed in 2017, through the FMS (US Military Foreign Sales) programme to sell the U.S. weapons, military equipment and services to foreign governments, making significant savings to the Department of Defense. Training of Croatian instructors and maintenance personnel, meanwhile, is valued at $3.8 million and will be provided by certified civilian contractors under US funding.
Having received AGM-114 Hellfire missiles from the U.S. intended for the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopters of the Croatian Air Force, the Kiowas attained full operational capability (FOC). The missiles have provided a long-operational range anti-tank warfare precision and multi-target capability weapon operational in both daytime and nighttime conditions, and improved safety for the crew. Hellfire missiles are sophisticated anti-tank missile manufactured by Lockheed Martin, homing in on laser beam from the aircraft or a ground-based tripods, and capable of operating from ground, sea and air platforms both in day and nighttime conditions.