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Boeing-Sikorsky AH-66 Comanche Helicopter

The Boeing-Sikorsky AH-66 Comanche Attack Helicopter (or RAH-66 Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter) was the proposed next-generation Army attack helicopter developed under the 1983-1991 Light Helicopter Experimental (LHX) program. The AH-66 was to supersede and replace the entire aging fleet of OH-58 Kiowa and AH-1 Cobra helicopters.

The first Boeing-Sikorsky RAH-66 Comanche prototype was demonstrated at Sikorsky Aircraft, Stratford, CT, 25 May 1995 with first flight was made on 4 January 1996. The RAH-66 Comanche is powered by two Light Helicopter Turbine Engine Co. (LHTEC) T800-801 engines, advanced engines that will be enable it to maintain sufficient speed to keep up with the more powerful AH-64 Apache. The Comanche has a cruising speed of 161 knots (185 mph) and a dash speed of 172 knots (198 mph). Its all-composite, low-observable airframe was designed to evade detection by radar, infrared and acoustic sensors during its projected missions of armed reconnaissance, light attack and air combat. First deliveries were scheduled for 2006, with the Comanche program reaching full production by about 2010.

The AH-66 Comanche program struggled for years to maintain its funding as the U.S. military went through significant changes and transformation. In February 2004 the Army announced cancellation of further research, development and planned purchases of the RAH-66 Comanche stealth helicopter. Funds would instead be used to modernize and expand the fleet of AH-64 Apache, UH-60 Blackhawk, and CH-47 Chinook helicopters.

As an offshoot of the AH-66 program, the ARH-70 (Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter) will be purchased from Bell Textron to replace the Army's fleet of OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopters.

ARH-70 Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter
ARH-70 Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter.

First flight of the ARH-70 Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter, 4 January 1996.  Photo:  Courtesy Boeing
First flight of the ARH-70 Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter, 4 January 1996. Photo: Courtesy Boeing.


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