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The RAH-66 Comanche Helicopter: Technical Accomplishment, Program Frustration


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The RAH-66 Comanche Helicopter: Technical Accomplishment, Program Frustration

  • SKU # : b_9781624106248
  • The RAH-66 Comanche Helicopter: Technical Accomplishment, Program Frustration
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The RAH-66 Comanche Helicopter: Technical Accomplishment, Program Frustration

Authors / Details:

Arthur W. Linden and the Comanche Team

On December 5, 2003, Lt. Gen Richard A. Cody, Army Deputy Chief of Staff and an experienced aviator, flew the Comanche. According to the January 2004 issue of National Defense he “…gave the aircraft a stellar review. …Cody said that the Comanche had ‘exceeded his expectations’ and was particularly impressed by the rotor system, engine response and control. Cody also reportedly said the aircraft was ‘easy to fly’ and should be put into the hands of soldiers as soon as possible.” Twelve weeks later the program was cancelled.

Mike Hirschberg, executive director of the Vertical Flight Society, wrote in the January/February 2017 issue of Vertiflite magazine: “The RAH-66 Comanche was the most advanced helicopter ever built. First, inadequate R&D funding levels during the Clinton administration stretched out its development over two decades. Then, with only two prototypes completed, the Comanche had to be sacrificed in 2003 to field upgrades to the existing U.S. Army rotorcraft fleet so it would remain viable in Afghanistan and Iraq.… This terrible choice was necessitated by the lack of sufficient funds for vertical lift aviation.”

So, what happened? How did Comanche become expendable? How did a program that was originally scheduled to enter Low Rate Initial Production in 1996 get delayed to 2011? How did an aircraft originally designed to replace the Army's light scout/attack fleet grow to become a virtual replacement for the much larger, heavier AH-64 Apache?

This is a story of great accomplishment and much frustration. The program never stayed stable for more than a few years at a time. From 1991 to 2004 Comanche went through six program restructures, mostly due to reductions and stretch-outs in Army funding. This is the story of a program that enjoyed strong support at the most senior levels of the Army and DoD – until it didn't.

This is the Comanche history, as told by the some of the key members of the Comanche development team.

ARTHUR W. LINDEN joined the LHX program in September 1987 as the Sikorsky LHX engineering manager. He became the Sikorsky LHX program director in June 1990. In 1996 he went to the JPO, first as the Comanche deputy program director and then as the program director. He retired in June 2000, after his four-year rotation in that position. He is the primary author of the book. His three boxes on LHX/Comanche material were the original basis for the book. They included all the issues of the aviation press quoted herein. He authored numerous chapters from this material and served as coordinator and editor to put the full book together.

Title: The RAH-66 Comanche Helicopter: Technical Accomplishment, Program Frustration
By: Arthur W. Linden and the Comanche Team
Format: Hard Cover, 330 pages
ISBN: 978-1-62410-624-8
eISBN: 978-1-62410-625-5
Publisher: AIAA
Publication Date: January 12, 2022
Weight: 2.51 pounds
Dimensions:  9.25 x 6.25 x 1.25 inches