Back in the quiet days of 2004, the US Army announced the cancellation of the Boeing and Sikorsky RAH-66 Comanche stealth helicopters. The news came as a shock to those following the project, as the military has spent $6.9 billion and more than 20 years developing the Comanche, according to NBC News.
Why would the Army cancel something it cost so much money to? Pentagon officials said there was no room in the budget for such a large project, and the Army would instead upgrade its fleet of UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters. This is the same army that approved the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter in 1997. The project ultimately cost more than $1 trillion. Money is almost certainly not the only reason.
War is changing rapidly in the early 2000s, and drones are becoming the new stealth reconnaissance and attack aircraft. Helicopters, even ones equipped with stealth technology like the Comanche, are huge targets and louder than the Army’s UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles). Most drones are also cheaper and safer than traditional aircraft.
According to the U.S. Air Force, the cost of four MQ-1B Reaper drones is $20 million, which includes a ground control station and satellite link so that the crew can operate the drone man and machine to avoid injury. the American way. NBC reports that the Comanche should cost closer to $60 million per plane.
Stealth New Century
in MQ-1 Predator Stealth aircraft were all the rage before drones like the MQ-9 Reaper gained public attention during the war on terror. Aircraft like the B2 Spirit demonstrate the potential of stealth attack aircraft. The RAH-66 Comanche should follow the same trend.
According to Boeing, the Comanche is a joint venture between Sikorsky and Boeing that was originally intended to act as a reconnaissance aircraft and identify targets of interest.
Comanche looks like a rendering of a helicopter for the PlayStation One, designed to operate stealthily. Its angular body panels allow it to fly into enemy territory almost undetected. The Comanche wasn’t designed to be a flying weapons platform like the AH-64 Apache, but it wasn’t a slob either. It has a 20mm chin gun, and the wing pylons can be armed with air-to-air or air-to-surface missiles (via Hotcars).
After nearly 20 years in hindsight, it’s easy to see why the military prefers drones to the Comanche’s stealth magic. But at the time, stealth helicopters were the future of warfare.