View Full Version : Comanche program cancelled

24th February 2004, 14:59
... from the detroit news www.detnews.com

Army scuttles copter project

Pentagon decides it can't afford $38 billion Comanche program

By Robert Burns / Associated Press

WASHINGTON — In a dramatic about-face, the Army canceled its Comanche helicopter program Monday after sinking $6.9 billion and 21 years of effort into producing a new-generation chopper.

It is one of the biggest program cancellations in the Army’s history and comes less than two years after the service’s $11 billion Crusader artillery project was dropped after $2 billion had been spent.

Senior Army leaders said they would propose to Congress that $14.6 billion earmarked to develop and build 121 Comanches between now and 2011 be used instead to buy 796 Black Hawk and other helicopters and to upgrade and modernize 1,400 helicopters in the fleet.

“It’s a big decision, but we know it’s the right decision,” said Gen. Peter Schoomaker, the Army chief of staff.

The Comanche decision reflects a growing realization in the Pentagon that the military has more big-ticket weapons projects in the works than it can afford, and it reflects the rising popularity in recent years of unmanned aircraft.

The RAH-66 Comanche helicopter project was launched in 1983 and was eventually to have cost more than $39 billion.


This is a pity this is a really good aircraft. It can turn 90 degrees when flying forward and bring its guns to bear on an enemy. Its visually more impressive than I make it sound.

24th February 2004, 15:10
Long time coming. Programme was almost 20 years in the works and the aircraft itself was, essentially, a solution looking for a programme. Mix of AH-64D and UAV/UCAV are already a superior capacity to have.

24th February 2004, 16:00
Looks like the US Army are cancelling the RAH-66 Commanche Programme.


Army requests Comanche termination

By Joe Burlas

WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Feb. 23, 2004) -- The Army plans to cancel further research, development and planned purchases of the RAH-66 Comanche stealth helicopter.

Acting Secretary of the Army Les Brownlee and Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Schoomaker told the Pentagon press corps late Feb. 23 the Army’s Comanche termination recommendation to Congress is about getting the most bang for the buck for Army aviation.

“We have examined closely our resourcing plans for aviation and concluded that some of the capabilities those funds would provide are no longer consistent with the changed operating environment,” Brownlee said.

From a purely business standpoint, it makes a lot more sense to upgrade the capabilities of the current Army aircraft fleet to meet the demands of the contemporary operating environment with the $14 billion currently slated for the Comanche program versus getting the 121 Comanche helicopters designed for a different environment and a different enemy than the ones the Army faces today, Schoomaker said.

That $14 billion represents about 40 percent of the planned Army aviation budget through fiscal year 2011.

The decision to cancel the Comanche program stems from one of Schoomaker’s early directives to take a close look at Army aviation to determine how it should transform to best meet today’s and tomorrow’s challenges on the battlefield. The six-month study that ensued recently concluded.

Standardizing what comprises an aviation brigade was one of the study’s recommendations.

There are currently seven different types of aviation brigades in the Army today. That standardization includes the Army Reserve and National Guard. The reserve component has dozens of 1970s airframes like the UH-1 utility and AH-1 attack helicopters that had been phased out of the active Army more than a decade ago.

Given how reserve-component units have been tasked to support Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom in the past two years, they should be “plug-and-play” with their active-Army counterparts -- but they are mostly not due in large part to equipment differences, said Lt. Gen. H Steven Blum, chief of the National Guard Bureau.

The 3rd Infantry Division’s aviation brigade, recently back from Iraq, will be the first brigade to reset under the standardization plan. The future Army aviation brigades will have two battalions of 24 Apache attack helicopters each; a battalion of 30 Black Hawk helicopters; a utility battalion with eight light utility, 12 Chinook heavy utility and 12 Black Hawk helicopters and a number of unmanned aerial vehicles – for reconnisance and possibly combat; and a maintenance battalion.

The Army plans to divert part of the terminated Comanche funds to buy more Black Hawk and Apache helicopters for the Army Reserve and National Guard.

The study also recommend that the Army replace the OH-58D reconnaissance helicopter with something more current as well as replacing its aged cargo aircraft and creating another light utility helicopter. The Army is setting up programs to determine what the new requirements are and part of the diverted Comanche funds will be used to buy those aircraft, said Lt. Gen. Richard Cody, deputy chief of staff, G-3.

The study and recent lessons learned identified aircraft survivability as a major issue that needs to be addressed. Again money diverted from the Comanche program could upgrade a significant portion of the Army aircraft fleet with the latest flare and chaff defense systems.

In total, the Army plans to buy approximately 800 more aircraft and upgrade another 400 beyond what current funding allows with diverted Comanche funds.

Not all of the approximately $6.3 billion invested in the 20-year-old Comanche program will be a loss. Technologies learned during the development of the helicopter will be added to the Army's technology base for use in future aviation programs, perhaps the Joint Multi-Purpose Helicopter or Joint Cargo Aircraft, Brownlee said.

“If you told me six months ago that I would be standing here saying the Army no longer needs the Comanche helicopter, I wouldn’t have believed you,” Cody said. “It is the most flexible, most agile aircraft this country has ever produced with leap ahead technology. The makers of the Comanche should be justifiably proud of what they have accomplished.”

However, Cody said he has determined that the Comanche is a niche-capability aircraft whose funding would be better spent upgrading the current fleet.

24th February 2004, 16:03

24th February 2004, 17:40
I didnt think they would actually cancel the programme!
bye bye Comanche :O

Goldie fish
24th February 2004, 17:57
I have the game on PC....Its quite good actually....

Truck Driver
28th February 2004, 06:52
A fast glance at the picture makes it look like a cross between a
Dauphin and a Huey Cobra (tail of the Dauphin, front end of a Cobra)
My first post on the AC page, by the way....

Goldie fish
28th February 2004, 07:18
Boeing are still claiming that the Ducted fan tail rotor was their idea....

28th February 2004, 19:38
So whats the future for attack helicopters now? Looks like the apache`s gonna be sluggin it out for another while. Could mean an opening in the market for development of european attack helicopters

29th February 2004, 03:16
Comanche was supposed to be a scout helicopter, not attack anyway.

29th February 2004, 13:30
While the RAH 66 could and would have killed tanks by itself it's true that it`s more usual role would have been to find targets for the AH-64D, the RAH-66 was not concieved purely as a scout though, the original idea was to come up with a helicopter that would replace the old UH-1 , AH-1 , OH-6 AND OH-58 assault/attack/scout aircraft. It was wrong of me though to refer to the RAH 66 purely as an attack helicopter, a more accurate description would have been armed scout that would have performed it's own security and attack missions aswell. Anyway what i was getting at was that with the loss of the commanche it's an oppurtunity for some european companys to come to the forefront for a change;)