Military Heat

RAH-66 Comanche stealth attack/reconnaissance helicopter

Writing by Tolip on Thursday, 27 of September , 2007 at 12:30 pm

The RAH-66 Comanche was an advanced stealth attack/reconnaissance helicopter developed by Boeing and Sikorsky for the US Army.Designed to replace the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior and AH-1 Cobra, the Comanche was the first helicopter to incorporate the stealth technology.Compared to the AH-64 Apache helicopter the Comanche is four times less easy to observe and almost six times quieter.

In 1981 the US Army issued the design concepts for the Light Helicopter Experimental (LHX).Boeing and Sikorsky began cooperation in 1985 for the development and production of the LHX.They received the contract for a demonstration/validation program in 1991 and on January 4 1996 the Comanche had its maiden flight.Flights continued and in June 2000 the program entered Engineering and Manufacturing Development.

The US Army was expected to purchase 1300 Comanches to use in the light observation and attack roles.In February 2004 however, the program was canceled after 8 billion US $ were spent.The decision to cancel the program was made because the US Army consultants considered that the helicopter would not meet the requirements of a changing operational environment.Also the need of funds to upgrade the existing fleet of light attack and reconnaissance helicopters and the increase of unmanned aerial vehicles in the observation role ultimately led to the termination of the Comanche program.

Specifications

Performance

Dash speed 172 knots
Cruise speed 161 knots
Vertical rate of climb 850 feet per minute
Maximum range 1,260 nautical miles
Endurance, standard fuel 2 hours 30 minutes

Power plant

Engine type T-800-LHT-801 turboshaft
Maximum rated power 1,563 shaft horsepower, each

Weight

Weight empty 8,690 pounds
Primary mission weight 11,632 pounds

Dimensions

Overall length 46.85 feet
Overall height 11.06 feet
Width tailplane 9.25 feet

Rotor system
Type bearingless

Construction composite
Diameter 39.04 feet
disc area 1,1997.04 square feet
Blades 8

Anti-torque rotor system

Type shrouded (Fenestron)
Construction composite
Chord 6.6 inches
Diameter 4.49 feet
Blades 8

Comments (1)

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1 Comment

Comment by Pat

Made Monday, 30 of June , 2008 at 5:35 pm

Eventually all equipment programs change depending on the evolution of current combat situations and battle tactics. The cancellation of this program reflects, I believe, a paradigm change which does not bode well for the U.S.. The “LUST” that policy makers seem to now share for unmanned vehicles as the preeminent tool for war is entirely cradled in the belief that somehow we as a nation can defend ourselves and our interests abroad, with no risks to personnel, and thereby make combat more palatable to the American people. While the effectiveness of unmanned observation vehicles is indeed indispensable I believe that it is the human element in a combat environment that is best suited to adapt to changes which can occur almost instantaneously . I would also point out that the stealth characteristics this aircraft brings AND the offensive capabilities would make it a sure fit with the new systems coming online with our military forces.

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