Boeing Sikorsky RAH-66 Comanche Review, Top Speed, Unit Cost, Manufacturer – RAH-66 Comanche was the U.S. Army’s first potentially military-focused combat helicopter until the program was terminated in 2004.
Boeing Sikorsky RAH-66 Comanche Review, Top Speed, Unit Cost, Manufacturer
|Type||Boeing/Sikorsky RAH-66 Comanche|
|Unit Cost||$ 70 million|
|Year of Development||2004|
|Manufacturer||Sikorsky Aircraft / Boeing Rotorcraft Systems|
|Engine||Two LHTEC T800-LHT-801 turboshaft engines (1,563 hp each) drive the five-bladed main rotor and the eight-bladed tail rotor with a sheet fan|
|Top Speed||201 mph (324 km/h)|
MilitaryEzyInfo.com – Sikorsky’s RAH-66 Comanche was destined to be the future of the U.S. Army’s rotary-wing aircraft. It was a stealth-based light attack helicopter that would replace the aging Bell UH-1 Huey attack helicopter, Bell AH-1 Cobra light attack helicopter, Hughes OH-6 Cayuse light reconnaissance and attack helicopter, and Bell OH-58 Kiowa light attack helicopter.
The First Combat Helicopter
The RAH-66 was the world’s first stealth attack helicopter and advocated the extensive use of stealth attack materials to adequately house anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles in its internal compartments and to stealthily approach enemy radar.
If this RAH-66 is mass-produced, it will be the world’s most advanced combat helicopter that can be operated by any army in the world. Its first flight was on January 4, 1996.
History of the RAH-66 Helicopter
The history of the RAH-66 began with the LHX (Light Helicopter Experiment) program in 1982. – A joint venture between Boeing and Sikorsky submitted the design.
The RFP was not released until 1988, but by that time the US Army’s requirements had changed to a light attack helicopter for reconnaissance.
In 1990, the program was renamed the LH (Light Attack Helicopter) program, and in the following year, Boeing-Sikorsky’s proposal was officially adopted, and as the first step, the US Army began developing four flight prototypes (YRAH-66). At the time, this product was officially named the YRAH-66 and was called the Comanche.
Production of the first glider began in 1993, but only two prototypes had already been ordered by the US military. The aircraft was unveiled in May 1995 and was flown to Florida for flight tests, but the first flight was delayed by a year.
First flight in 1996
Prototype 1 made its first flight in 1996, while Prototype 2 made its maiden flight ten years later on March 30, 1999, and entered flight testing.
This compact design got its small profile and sharp lines from the Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk multi-role fighter, at a time when sloping panels were the norm for stealthy aircraft (later followed by the Lockheed F-22 Raptor air superiority fighter ).
General Characteristics of the RAH-66
The RAH-66 used a large, five-bladed composite main rotor system with a canopy tail rotor mounted on the tail, a concept similar to the French “Fenestron” system. A built-in weapons bay was considered from the beginning, and it also had retractable wheeled landing gear.
The additional wings gave the aircraft greater tactical flexibility by allowing it to use a variety of ammunition, although the radar signals were larger. The standard fixed armament was a General Electric triple 20mm autocannon mounted on a French GIAT turret.
The RAH-66 was equipped with state-of-the-art flight control systems, including a hull-mounted display, a side-stack loop control system, a 3D moving map display, and a fly-by-wire (FBW) system with triple redundancy.
Other features included a long-range infrared system and an airborne laser identification system for precision munitions. The Apache Longbow, a millimeter-wave radar manufactured by Hughes, is also standard equipment.
Engine and Speed of RAH-66
Powered by two LHTEC T800-LHT-801 series turboshaft engines (1,563 hp each) driving a five-bladed main rotor and an eight-bladed flap tail rotor.
It has a maximum speed of 200 mph, a range of 1,382 miles, and a range of 15,000 feet. Takeoff speed is 895 feet per minute.
Complexity and Armament
On the envisioned battlefield, the RAH-66 would support coalition forces by attacking enemy armor from a distance. This helicopter combines the reconnaissance and tracking capabilities of the Apache Longbow with the mobility of the Bell OH-58 Kiowa series.
Weapons include support for Hellfire anti-tank missiles, Stinger air-to-air missiles, and 2.75-inch Hydra missile pods. With the optional wing mount, the total payload of the gun is approximately doubled.
This Project Was Canceled in 2004
However, in the spring of 2004, the Comanche never materialized as the U.S. Army canceled the project due to budget cuts.
Rather than purchasing the required number of expensive and technology-intensive attack systems, it was more economically responsible to simply upgrade the aging inventory.
At the U.S. Army Aviation Museum at Fort Rucker, Alabama, two prototypes stood the test of time.