War Zone? Yellowstone County Acquires Three Military Combat Helicopters


Billings, Montana is a city of one-hundred thousand people and a crime rate near the national average for its size. So why not give the police force three military helicopters?

Or at least, that’s the thought of the federal government that just gave OH-58C Kiowas attack helicopters (pictured above) to Yellowstone County.

Technically, only one of the helicopters will be used for patrol missions. The others will be reserved “for parts” for the one in operation. Sheriff Linder said, “It is a unique opportunity because while there are helicopters available to many law enforcement agencies through local pilot services, most cannot justify or afford to run their own aviation program.”

Yellowstone County must be rolling in the dough, however, because they plan on keeping the helicopter airborn whenever it’s needed. Perhaps they can be used to forcefully enforce mask mandates, which the department has been doing as of late.

The single-engine, single-rotormilitary helicopters used for observation, utility, and direct fire support, manufactured by Bell Helicopter. They were largely decommissioned in 2004 and their last major conflict was in Operation Iraqi Freedom, although they are still used by other militaries around the world, especially among the Australian military divisions.

Typically they are outfitted with with two HELLFIRE missiles, seven HYDRA 70 rockets, two air-to-air Stinger missiles, or one .50 caliber fixed forward machine gun. It is doubtful that it will come so well equipped for Yellowstone County.

The helicopters were given through the the Law Enforcement Support Office program, which uses decommissioned military equipment to militarize local law enforcement agencies. The “free” helicopters cost Yellowstone County 70 thousand dollars to retrograde and re-paint for civilian law enforcement purposes.


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