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Boeing/Sikorsky RAH-66 Comanche

posted by Jiri Wagner

The U.S. Army's aviation modernization plan has as its centerpiece the Boeing-Sikorsky RAH-66 Comanche armed reconnaissance helicopter. The aviation plan reflects the Army's new post-Cold War strategy to react to regional conflicts by using fewer personnel and long-range, self-deployable aircraft based in the continental United States.

The Comanche is a twin-turbine, two-seat (tandem) armed reconnaissance helicopter with projected missions of armed reconnaissance, light attack and air combat. Initial operating capability is set for the year 2006.

It will replace obsolete AH-1 and OH-58 attack and observation helicopters. The Comanche has capabilities demanded of a smaller force structure, such as: improved mobility, increased survivability and dramatically reduced operation and support costs. Initial operating capability is set for the year 2006.

Emphasis of the demonstration/validation program is to prove all critical components. These include mission equipment avionics and a growth version of the Comanche’s T800 engine. Two prototype aircraft are being built. The Defense Department’s Defense Acquisition Board has approved an early operational capability program that will provide for six additional aircraft, manufactured in 2001, for U.S. Army operational testing.


Outstanding Features
The Comanche’s most significant systems and features include:

General characteristics

Primary function Armed reconnaissance helicopter
Contractor Boeing Vertol Company/ Sikorsky Aircraft Division
Power plant Two LHTEC T800-LHT-801 turboshaft engines
Thrust 2x 1,432 HP 2x 1,068 kW
Length of fuselage 40.3 ft 13.22 m
Main rotor diameter 39 ft 11.9 m
Width of fuselage 6.7 ft 2.04 m
Max. takeoff weight 12,829 lb 5,819 kg
Max. speed 201 mph 324 km/h
Max. range 1,450 miles 2,334 km
Crew Two (pilot, co-pilot - weapon operator)
Armament 20mm three-barrel cannon Lockheed Martin Vulcan II (magazine capacity 500), missiles inside doors of weapons bays – three AGM-114 Hellfire or six FIM-92 Stinger missiles. Possible mounting of next pylons for 2x4 Hellfire or 2x8 Stingeror external fuel tanks. Possible also TOW II, Starstreak, Hydra, Matra Mistral, Oerlikon Snora, Sura D 81mm or Euromissile Hot II missiles.
Unit cost Approximately $7.5 million
Date of first flight January 4, 1996


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