The RAH-66 Comanche is an advanced twin engine, two seat (tandem) light attack/armed reconnaissance helicopter currently being developed for the U. S. Army by a joint venture comprising Boeing Helicopters and Sikorsky Aircraft. The Comanche features a five-bladed bearingless main rotor, a shrouded tail rotor, a low radar cross section composite fuselage with retractable weapons pylon, a fly-by-wire flight control system, and a fully integrated cockpit. The mission equipment package incorporates forward-looking infrared (FLIR) and image intensified television sensors for night pilotage and target acquisition. The Comanche will initially be armed with the semi-active laser Hellfire missile, the air-to-air Stinger missile, 2.75 inch aerial rockets, and a turreted 20 mm gun.
The Comanche is intended to replace the current fleet of AH-1 and OH-58 helicopters in all air cavalry troops and light division attack helicopter battalions, and supplement the AH-64 Apache in heavy division/corps attack helicopter battalions. The Army's April 2000 Aviation Force Modernization Plan recommended acquisition of 1,213 Comanche aircraft, valued at nearly $34 billion. The first US Army Comanche unit will be operationally equipped in 2006. Aviation battalions will be reorganized as part of the Army's 2000 Aviation Force Modernization Plan. AH-1 Cobras were divested by October 2001, and A and C model OH-58 Kiowas will be retired by 2004. The Cobras and Kiowas will be replaced by AH-64D Apaches and eventually by RAH-66 Comanches, the new reconnaissance and attack helicopter scheduled to begin joining the Army in 2008. Later-model Kiowas are scheduled for retirement in fiscal year 2013, according to the plan.