RAH-66 Comanche Helicopter
The Comanche is a joint program between Boeing [BA] and Sikorsky [UTC]. Boeing is the mission equipment package integrator, while Sikorsky is the airframe integrator.
The armed reconnaissance Comanche helicopter is an all-composite, low-observable, twin-turbine, tandem two-seat helicopter with projected missions of armed reconnaissance, light attack and air combat.
The Comanche is intended to replace the current fleet of Bell Helicopter Textron [TXT] OH-58 helicopters in all air cavalry troops and light division attack helicopter battalions, and supplement the Boeing [BA] AH-64 Apache in heavy division/corps attack helicopter battalions. The helicopter is designed to expand the ArmyÃs ability to conduct reconnaissance, deep, precision strike missions against time-sensitive targets and provide direct support to maneuvering forces. The helicopter is expected to do this day and night and in bad weather using digital communications to be part of the future joint network of ground, air and space systems. In October, 2002, restructuring the program, the PentagonÃs acquisition chief determined that the Army should buy 650 of the helicopters, with a production decision slated for the first quarter of 2010.
There are no foreign participants in the program or planned sales to other nations at this time. There is no known foreign counterpart to the next-generation helicopter.
The Army in late February 2004 terminated the Comanche program, and pledged to use the funds saved from the termination to implement modernization of existing helicopters and perhaps unmanned aerial vehicles. Four engineering and manufacturing development RAH-66 helicopters are in production as of January 2004, with the first to be flying in less than 18 months. The helicopter has been identified as a "complementary" program to the ArmyÃs Future Combat Systems, meaning it must effortlessly interface with and add to the capabilities of the equipment for the future, joint force.