The US has made a determination approving a possible foreign military sale to Croatia of Hydra 70 rockets for OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopters. The Hydra 70 rocket is a 2.75-inch (70 mm) diameter fin-stabilized unguided rocket used primarily in the air-to-ground role. It can be equipped with a variety of warheads, and in more recent versions, guidance systems for point attacks. The Croatian Air Force decided to acquire the 16 OH-58D Kiowa Warrior armed reconnaissance helicopters through the Excess Defense Articles (EDA) system. Today, the OH-58D(R) Kiowa Warrior and AH-64E Apache Longbow, as well as the Marine Corps’ versatile UH-1 Huey and AH-1 Cobra, carry the Hydra rocket launcher standard on its weapon pylons.
The Hydra 70 is derived from the 2.75-inch (70 mm) diameter Mk 4/Mk 40 Folding-Fin Aerial Rocket developed by the United States Navy for use as a free-flight aerial rocket in the late 1940s. The family of Hydra 70 (70 mm) 2.75 inch rockets perform a variety of functions. Hydra 70 rockets are known mainly by either their warhead type or by the rocket motor designation, Mk 66 in US military service. In the U.S. Army, Hydra 70 rockets are fired from the AH-64A Apache and AH-64D Apache Longbow helicopters using M261 19-tube rocket launchers, and the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior using seven-tube M260 rocket launchers. In the U.S. Marine Corps, either the M260 or M261 launchers are employed on the AH-1W SuperCobra and AH-1Z Viper, depending upon the mission.
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 OH-58 was in continuous U.S. Army service from 1969 to 2017. The latest model, the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior, is primarily operated in an armed reconnaissance role in support of ground troops, when it was replaced in these roles by the Boeing AH-64 Apache and Eurocopter UH-72 Lakota.. The OH-58 has been exported to Austria, Canada, Croatia, the Dominican Republic, Taiwan, Saudi Arabia, and Greece. It has also been produced under license in Australia.
The Kiowa Warrior, sometimes referred to by its acronym KW, is the armed version of the OH-58D. A key difference between the Kiowa Warrior and original AHIP aircraft is a universal weapons pylon found mounted on both sides of the fuselage, capable of carrying combinations of AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, air-to-air Stinger (ATAS) missiles, 7-shot 2.75 inches (70 mm) Hydra-70 rocket pods, and an M296 0.50 in (12.7 mm) caliber machine gun. The OH-58D introduced the most distinctive feature of the Kiowa family — the Mast Mounted Sight (MMS), which resembles a beach ball perched above the rotor system. The MMS by Ball Aerospace & Technologies has a gyro-stabilized platform containing a television system (TVS), a thermal imaging system (TIS), and a laser range finder/designator (LRF/D).