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Boeing / Sikorsky RAH-66 Comanche

Reconnaissance / Light Attack Helicopter

Boeing / Sikorsky RAH-66 Comanche

Reconnaissance / Light Attack Helicopter

OVERVIEW
SPECIFICATIONS
ARMAMENT
VARIANTS
HISTORY
MEDIA
OVERVIEW



The Boeing-Sikorsky joint-venture RAH-66 Comanche light attack helicopter was to become the first stealth-centric combat helicopter in the world - that is until the project was terminated in 2004.
National Flag Graphic
ORIGIN: United States
YEAR: 2004
STATUS: Cancelled
MANUFACTURER(S): Boeing Helicopters / Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation - USA
PRODUCTION: 2
OPERATORS: United States (cancelled)
SPECIFICATIONS



Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the Boeing / Sikorsky RAH-66 Comanche model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.
CREW: 2
LENGTH: 43.31 feet (13.2 meters)
WIDTH: 39.04 feet (11.9 meters)
HEIGHT: 11.06 feet (3.37 meters)
WEIGHT (EMPTY): 20,503 pounds (9,300 kilograms)
WEIGHT (MTOW): 12,359 pounds (5,606 kilograms)
ENGINE: 2 x LHTEC T800-LHT-801 turboshaft engines developing 1,563 horsepower each while driving a five-blade main rotor with an eight-blade "fan-in-fin" shrouded tail rotor.
SPEED (MAX): 201 miles-per-hour (324 kilometers-per-hour; 175 knots)
RANGE: 1,382 miles (2,224 kilometers; 1,201 nautical miles)
CEILING: 14,980 feet (4,566 meters; 2.84 miles)
RATE-OF-CLIMB: 895 feet-per-minute (273 meters-per-minute)




ARMAMENT



STANDARD:
1 x 20mm XM301 three-barrel cannon in chin turret.

OPTIONAL (INTERNAL BAYS):
6 x Hellfire anti-tank missiles OR 6 x Stinger air-to-air missiles OR 24 x Hydra 70 2.75" air-to-surface rockets.

OPTIONAL (STUB WINGS):
8 x Hellfire anti-tank missiles OR 16 x Stinger air-to-air missiles OR 56 x Hydra 70 2.75" air-to-surface rockets.
VARIANTS



Series Model Variants
• RAH-66 "Comanche" - Base Series Designation
• YRAH-66 - Prototype Model Designation; two constructed.


HISTORY



Detailing the development and operational history of the Boeing / Sikorsky RAH-66 Comanche Reconnaissance / Light Attack Helicopter.  Entry last updated on 7/25/2018. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com.
At one point, the Sikorsky RAH-66 Comanche was set to become the future of U.S. Army rotary-wing aviation. It was a stealth-based light attack helicopter set to replace an aging stock of Bell UH-1 "Huey" gunships, Bell AH-1 "Cobra" light attack helicopters, Hughes OH-6 "Cayuse" light observation and attack helicopters, and Bell OH-58 "Kiowa" light helicopters. The RAH-66 was the world's first purpose-built stealth attack helicopter complete with fully-powered internal bays housing anti-armor and anti-air missiles and promoted heavy use of stealth materials to help conceal its approach from enemy radar. Had it been serially produced, the RAH-66 would have been the world's most advanced combat helicopter in service with any army anywhere in the world. First flight came on January 4th, 1996.

Origins of the RAH-66 began with the LHX program (Light Helicopter Experimental) of 1982, the design proposal forwarded by a joint Boeing-Sikorsky. The Request for Proposal (RFP) was not enacted until 1988 to which, by now, the U.S. Army requirement had been evolved along the lines of a light reconnaissance-minded attack helicopter. In 1990, the program was given a new name as the Light Helicopter (LH) program and the following year saw the Boeing-Sikorsky submission officially selected as the winner of the program with the U.S. Army seeking four flyable prototypes (YRAH-66) in this early stage. By this time, the product was handed the official designation of "RAH-66" with the name of "Comanche".

Construction on the first airframe commenced in 1993 though the U.S. Army order now contracted for just two prototypes. The aircraft was unveiled in May of 1995 and delivered to Florida for the flight testing phase - the first flight delayed by one year already. First flight by the initial prototype was carried out in 1996 with a second prototype not to join the flight testing phase until later in the decade - recording its first flight on March 30th, 1999.

The compact design adopted a small profile and sharp lines seen previously in the multi-faceted Lockheed F-117 "Nighthawk" during a time when angled panels were the norm for stealth-centric aircraft (since abandoned in more modern stealth designs such as the Lockheed F-22 "Raptor" air superiority fighter). The RAH-66 was given a large five-blade composite main rotor system with a tail rotor housed in a shroud, similar in concept to the French "Fenestron" approach. Internal weapons bays were intended from the beginning as was a retractable powered, wheeled undercarriage. Optional stub wings allowed the helicopter more tactical flexibility when using varied ordnance options though at the cost of a larger radar signature. Standard, fixed armament was a powered 20mm three-barrel General Electric autocannon in a French GIAT turret. The crew of two - pilot and weapons specialist - sat in stepped tandem with good visibility over the surrounding terrain. The RAH-66 was given state-of-the-art flight control systems that included helmet-mounted displays, side-stick cyclic controlling, 3D moving map displays, and Fly-By-Wire (FBW) with triple redundancy feature. Additional components included Forward-Looking Infrared (FLIR) and an onboard self-laser designator for precision munitions. The Hughes Apache Longbow's millimeter wave radar was also standard equipment.

Power came from 2 x LHTEC T800-LHT-801 series turboshaft engines developing 1,563 horsepower each and driving the five-bladed main rotor with an eight-bladed fan-in-fin tail rotor unit. Maximum speed was 200 miles per hour with a range out to 1,382 miles and service ceiling of 15,000 feet. Rate-of-climb was 895 feet per minute.

On the hypothetical battlefield, the RAH-66 system would have supported allied forces by engaging enemy armor at range. The helicopter was granted the scan and track capabilities of the Apache Longbow with the nimbleness of the Bell OH-58 Kiowa series. Weapons support included the Hellfire anti-tank missile, Stinger air-to-air missile as well as Hydra 2.75" rocket pods. The optional wingstubs nearly doubled the ordnance-carrying totals when fixed.

Despite all this, the Comanche product never came to fruition as the entire project was cancelled by the United States Army in the Spring of 2004, mostly due to budgetary cutbacks. It proved more fiscally responsible to simply modernized an aged stock than to procure an expensive, technologically-laden attack system in the numbers required.

The two prototypes have survived the test of time, residing at the United States Army Aviation Museum at Fort Rucker, Alabama.




MEDIA







General Assessment (BETA)
Firepower  
Performance  
Survivability  
Versatility  
Impact  


Values are derrived from a variety of categories related to the design, overall function, and historical influence of this aircraft in aviation history.
MF Power Rating (BETA)
34
The MF Power Rating takes into account over sixty individual factors related to this aircraft entry. The rating is out of 100 total possible points.
Relative Maximum Speed Rating
Hi: 300mph
Lo: 150mph
    This entry's maximum listed speed (201mph).

    Graph average of 225 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
NYC
 
  LDN
LDN
 
  PAR
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  BER
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  MSK
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  TKY
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  SYD
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  LAX
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  NYC
Graph showcases the Boeing / Sikorsky RAH-66 Comanche's operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Useful in showcasing the era cross-over of particular aircraft/aerospace designs.
Unit Production Comparison
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units
2
2

  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

  ** Military Market High belongs to Ilyushin Il-2.


Altitude Visualization
Small airplane graphic
Supported Roles
A2A
Interception
UAV
Ground Attack
CAS
Training
ASW
Anti-Ship
AEW
MEDEVAC
EW
Maritime/Navy
SAR
Aerial Tanker
Utility/Transport
VIP
Passenger
Business
Recon
SPECOPS
X-Plane/Development
A2A=Air-to-Air; UAV=Unmanned; CAS=Close Support; ASW=Anti-Submarine; AEW=Airborne Early Warning; MEDEVAC=Medical Evac; EW=Electronic Warfare; SAR=Search-Rescue
In the Cockpit...
Supported Arsenal
Graphical image of an air-to-air missile weapon
Graphical image of a short-range air-to-air missile
Graphical image of an aircrat automatic cannon
Graphical image of an aircraft air-to-surface missile
Graphical image of an aircraft anti-tank guided missile
Graphical image of aircraft aerial rockets
Commitments / Honors
Military lapel ribbon for Operation Allied Force
Military lapel ribbon for the Arab-Israeli War
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Britain
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Midway
Military lapel ribbon for the Berlin Airlift
Military lapel ribbon for the Chaco War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cuban Missile Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for pioneering aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the Falklands War
Military lapel ribbon for the French-Indochina War
Military lapel ribbon for the Golden Age of Flight
Military lapel ribbon for the 1991 Gulf War
Military lapel ribbon for the Indo-Pak Wars
Military lapel ribbon for the Iran-Iraq War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon for the 1982 Lebanon War
Military lapel ribbon for the Malayan Emergency
Military lapel ribbon representing modern aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the attack on Pearl Harbor
Military lapel ribbon for the Six Day War
Military lapel ribbon for the Soviet-Afghan War
Military lapel ribbon for the Spanish Civil War
Military lapel ribbon for the Suez Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for Warsaw Pact of the Cold War-era
Military lapel ribbon for the WASP (WW2)
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2
Military lapel ribbon for the Yom Kippur War
Military lapel ribbon for experimental x-plane aircraft
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.