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Boeing/Sikorsky RAH-66 Comanche Reconnaissance and attack helicopter

Categories: Military Helicopters
us army
Boeing/Sikorsky RAH-66 Comanche Reconnaissance and attack helicopter


Date: 2015-09-03
The Source (author): |

The US Army`s ambitious LHX (Light Helicopter Experimental) programme called for a new armed reconnaissance/scout helicopter to replace the service`s force of 3 000 AH-1s, OH-6s and OH-58s. A request for proposals was issued in June 1988, and 23-month demonstration and validation contracts were placed with two industrial teamings: the `Super Team` (Bell and McDonnell Douglas) and the `First Team` (Boeing and Sikorsky).
In April 1991 the designation and name RAH-66 Comanche were selected and the First Team was announced as winner.
The Comanche is designed for minimum observability and is based on a stealthy airframe built largely of composite materials. Its advanced avionics are designed for maximum commonality with the F-22 Raptor, and include dual triplex fly-by-wire control systems with sidestick cyclic pitch controllers, a `glass` cockpit with two large liquid-crystal displays in each cockpit, advanced crew helmet displays and sights, a comprehensive self-protection suite, and provision for Longbow radar.

Development of the RAH-66 Comanche has been slowed by technical considerations as well as political antipathy and budgetary delays. The definitive programme emerged in 1995, and called for two YRAH-66 flying prototypes (the first flying on 4 January 1996) plus six `early operational capability` helicopters with reconnaissance equipment but no armament for trials from 2001. In 1998 the planned total was 1 292 helicopters with the possibility of 389 to be added later, however the whole programme was canceled in 2004.


"This platform is not just another system – it`s an asset with a multirole-ability to gain information dominance and then pass on that information to the critical command and control people, the intelligence people, to the manoeuvre elements and guys in fire support."
–Brigadier General Joseph Bergantz,
US Army RAH-66 program manager
The RAH-66 was powered by two LHTEC T800 turboshaft engines. Its fuselage was 43 feet (13 m) long and made of composite material. It was designed to fit more easily onto transport ships, enabling it to be deployed to hot spots quickly.If transport assets were not available, the Comanche`s ferry range of 1,200 nmi (2,200 km) would allow it to fly to battlefields overseas on its own.
The Comanche was specifically tailored to the role of armed scout to replace the U.S. Army`s OH-58D Kiowa Warrior, which is an upgraded version of a Vietnam War-era observation helicopter. The Comanche was smaller and lighter than the AH-64.

The RAH-66 was intended to be a stealth helicopter; it incorporated multiple techniques to reduce its radar cross-section (RCS) and other areas of visibility.
Its outer surfaces were faceted and had radar-absorbent material (RAM) coatings and infrared-suppressant paint applied; with these measures, the Comanche`s RCS was 360 times smaller than the AH-64 Apache attack helicopter.
The Comanche`s acoustic signature was noticeably lower than comparative helicopters; this was partly achieved through the all-composite 5-blade main rotor and pioneering canted tail rotor assembly.

The Comanche was equipped with sophisticated navigation and detection systems intended to allow operations at night and in bad weather. Each of the two crew-members had two LCD multi-functional displays in addition to the Helmet-Integrated Display and Sight System (HIDSS).
It has a digital fly-by-wire flight control system. Its primary mission was to use its advanced sensors to find and designate targets for attack helicopters, such as the AH-64.

The RAH-66 was armed with a 20 mm three-barrel XM301 cannon under its nose and could internally carry six AGM-114 Hellfire or twelve AIM-92 Stinger missiles split evenly between the two retractable weapons pylons.
The Comanche could also externally carry four Hellfire or eight Stinger missiles on each of its stub wings, but with a reduction in the effectiveness of stealth technologies.
The Specifications of the Boeing/Sikorsky RAH-66 Comanche Reconnaissance and attack helicopter

General characteristics

Crew: 2
Length: 46.85 ft (14.28 m)
Rotor diameter: 39.04 ft (11.90 m)
Height: 11.06 ft (3.37 m)
Disc area: 1,197 ft² (111 m²)
Empty weight: 9,300 lb (4,218 kg)
Loaded weight: 12,349 lb (5,601 kg)
Useful load: 5,062 lb (2,296 kg)
Max. takeoff weight: 17,408 lb (7,896 kg)
Powerplant: 2 × LHTEC T800-LHT-801 turboshaft, 1,563 hp (1,165 kW) each
Fuselage length: 43.31 ft (13.20 m)
Rotor systems: 5-bladed main rotor, 8-bladed fan-in-fin anti-torque system (FANTAIL)


Maximum speed: 175 knots (201 mph, 324 km/h)
Cruise speed: 165 knots (190 mph, 306 km/h)
Range: 262 nmi (302 mi, 485 km) on internal fuel
Combat radius: 150 nmi (173 mi, 278 km) on internal fuel
Ferry range: 1,200 nmi (1,380 mi, 2,220 km)
Endurance: 2.5 hr
Service ceiling: 14,980 ft (4,566 m)
Rate of climb: 895 ft/min (4.55 m/s)


1× 20 mm XM301 three-barrel Gatling-style cannon mounted in a Turreted Gun System (capacity: 500 rounds)
Internal bays: 6× AGM-114 Hellfire air-to-ground missiles, or 12× AIM-92 Stinger air-to-air missiles, or 24× 2.75 in (70 mm) Hydra 70 air-to-ground rockets
Optional stub wings: 8× Hellfires, 16× Stingers, or 56× Hydra 70 rockets

Boeing/Sikorsky RAH-66 Comanche Reconnaissance and attack helicopter Boeing/Sikorsky RAH-66 Comanche Reconnaissance and attack helicopter Boeing/Sikorsky RAH-66 Comanche Reconnaissance and attack helicopter Boeing/Sikorsky RAH-66 Comanche Reconnaissance and attack helicopter Boeing/Sikorsky RAH-66 Comanche Reconnaissance and attack helicopter

Date: 2015-09-03
The Source: |

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