YouTube – RAH-66 Comanche
2 x 1,565 hp ea.
47 ft. 8 in.
11 ft. 0 in.
39 ft. 0 in.
The RAH-66 Comanche, a joint venture of Boeing and Sikorsky, was to be the first United States helicopter developed specifically for stealth armed reconnaissance.
In May 1995 production of the first helicopter prototype was completed. The helicopter first flew on January 4, 1996. It was anticipated that the Block 1 for armed reconnaissance would be deployed in 2009 with Block II helicopters, for heavy attack, would be deployed in 2011.
The helicopter featured a five-blade bearing-less main rotor, an anti-torque tail rotor system, Turboshaft LHTEC-800LHT-801 engines, triple-redundant fly-by-wire flight control, and digital missions electronics with on-board diagnostics. In addition it had remove and replace maintenance, Hands On Grips controls for single-handed flight operations, a buried exhaust system, and internal weapons for lower drag, stealth, and to maintain a low radar signature. A three-barrel 20mm Gatling gun fired 750 or 1,500 rounds per minute.
Test pilots reported, while flying the helicopter, that barely advancing the throttle immediately caused the head of the helicopter to start spooling up. Initially advancing the throttle and the blades were spinning briskly. Advancing the throttle further caused the helicopter to get light on its wheels and lift off the ground. Some quick trimming was needed to allow it to hover in one spot.
It was obvious that the helicopter was both powerful and agile. Even though the helicopter felt agile in the air and would move quickly with any command input, it wasn’t difficult to maintain hover. The triple-redundant fly-by-wire flight control was quick.
With the efficient and strong running Turboshaft LHTEC-800-LHT-801 engines, the helicopter zoomed. It was very responsive in flight, grooved with the best of them, and felt like a much smaller aircraft.
Aerobatics were easy to do with the power available. Loops, rolls and stall-turns were all performed easily.
Two prototype RAH-66 Comanche helicopters were produced. Production never got beyond the prototype stage. Prototype testing immediately before cancellation revealed a host of problems. Computers, weight, stealth technology, and weapons were all deficient, to name a few of the items.
The project was canceled by the U. S. Army on February 23, 2004. Approximately US$7 billion had been spent on the project. Approximately US$860 million would be added on as cancellation fees.
RC RAH-66 Comanche
The RC RAH-66 Comanche built by Michael Behrens is 1/8 scale with a length of 69 in. and rotor diameter of 62 1/2 in. Power comes from an Actro-Kohler 32-3 electric helicopter motor and all-up weight is around 20 lbs.