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.
The Comanche-s most significant systems and features include:
|Five-bladed bearingless main rotor |
|FANTAIL anti-torque system |
|Low-workload crew station |
|Self-healing digital mission electronics |
|Longbow fire-control radar |
|Passive long-range, high-resolution sensors |
|Triple redundant fly-by-wire flight control system |
|Wide field-of-view (35 X 52 degrees) helmet-mounted display |
|Low observables (radar, infrared, acoustic) |
|Two 6- by 8-inch multifunctional displays |
|Triple redundant electrical/hydraulic systems on-board diagnostic system
|Simple remove-and-replace maintenance |
|Fully retractable missile armament system |
|Stowable three-barrel 20-mm Gatling gun |