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Posted: 11/23/2003 10:47:18 AM EDT
Saw a show about these and the LHX program the other night. They don't seem to get much press like, say, the JSF. Not sexy enough? They looked pretty cool to me, but the Pentagon seems to be dragging its feet about buying them now. What's the scoop, anybody know?
Link Posted: 11/23/2003 10:58:43 AM EDT
No, the footdragging about the Comanche has never made sense.

They are far better protected than Kiowa.

And they are the first helicopter DESIGNED with air portability in mind.

They fit in a C-130, SIX fit in a C-17.

And- they can be carried fueled and loaded, pushed out the door, and be flying FIVE MINUTES after landing.

It took 96 hours to dissassemble, fly, and reassemble 24 Apaches to fight in Operation Anaconda in 02'

24 Comanches would have been there in about 20 hours, most of it flying time.

A Comanche doesn't have quite the firepower of a Apache- but it DOES surpass the old Cobras used by the Marines and is far more portable than either. The Kiowa Warrior doesn't even compare: one .50cal and 7 rockets or 2 hellfire vs. 56 rockets or 10 Hellfire and one 20mm cannon.
Link Posted: 11/23/2003 11:05:10 AM EDT
My old boss (BG) was the Pentagon's Congressional liaison for the LHX project back around 1987. The program was started even before the Apache had really proven its worth, so Congress (and many in the Pentagon) were a little leary about heavy funding for another helicopter project. Because of that, LHX was cancelled and reauthorized dozens of times before the Comanche came on the scene.

It's really a great replacement for the unarmored and (comparatively) unarmed Kiowa Scout/Warrior, but I'm not sure the USMC would forego their paid for Cobras for heavy payments on the very expensive Comanche.
Link Posted: 11/23/2003 11:46:35 AM EDT
Link Posted: 11/23/2003 12:01:02 PM EDT

Originally Posted By MickeyMouse:
Not sure either are THAT much better than the old snake. That thing is relatively cheap and reliable. Not terribly hard to maintain and carries a good deal of firepower. Only ONE was lost (IIRC) in Iraq, and that was a DA attack. Guy flew through the debris of his exploding target.



I think if they had to live with some Comanches for a while they would change their minds. The things they designed into the Comanche to allow crews to work on them WITHOUT any anticelleary equipment other than hand tools is amazing. Even the access pannels were designed to support people standing on them, so they would not even have to bring a step ladder with them.

They did copy one thing from the late production/upgraded Snakes. They went and ADDED a second access door to the 20mm magazine and feed system- just so they could have one on each side and both could be folded out and used as BENCHES to recover another shot down Comanche crew, just like Snake drivers in the last two wars have done.
Link Posted: 11/23/2003 12:17:48 PM EDT

Originally Posted By SJSAMPLE:
...but I'm not sure the USMC would forego their paid for Cobras for heavy payments on the very expensive Comanche.



That, and the cobra & huey share many common avionics, powerplant, transmission and even airframe components, making supply easier. With the exception of the fire control system, the maintenance training required is the same. So 1 mech is fluent in either airframe.
Link Posted: 11/23/2003 12:33:43 PM EDT

Originally Posted By GunnyG:

Originally Posted By SJSAMPLE:
...but I'm not sure the USMC would forego their paid for Cobras for heavy payments on the very expensive Comanche.



That, and the cobra & huey share many common avionics, powerplant, transmission and even airframe components, making supply easier. With the exception of the fire control system, the maintenance training required is the same. So 1 mech is fluent in either airframe.



True, but someday they will wear out, and the Comanche will be the only thing around to replace the Cobra that will fit into the same footprint on board ship.

Its a moot point for the Army as they have taken all their H-1 types out of service already.
Link Posted: 11/23/2003 12:36:33 PM EDT
The history of the program is failry political, and intertwined with many other programs and events. It goes WAY back to the AAH and UTTAS programs, which is what eventually gave us the Apache and Blackhawk.

At the time, AAH and UTTAS was to replace the AH-1 and UH-1 series. As both programs progressed into the YAH-63/64 and YUH-60/61 programs, cost overruns began to take it's toll (gee, like this has never happened before adn couldn't be foreseen). The Army came to realize that there was no way they could replace the aircraft one for one, or even one for two.

As a side note, both the Blackhawk and Apache were touted as being C-130 transportable, same as the Comanche is today, at about the same time in their development. Don't put alot of stock in what an unfielded system is "supposed to" be able to do. The M2/M3 Bradley was touted as "C-141 transportable" as well.

When the Army was faced with rising costs for the 60/64, they had to cme up with a cheaper way to replace the large number of legacy aircraft (i.e. the Bell products of AH-1, UH-1 and OH-58) without endangering the newer systems. If the Army came out with a cheaper system than the Apache and Blackhawk, Congress would start asking why were we buying those more expensive systems if a cheaper replacement existed. So the Army came up with a VERY complicated plan.

LHX was born. It was to replace the AH-1, UH-1 and OH-58. There were to be two versions, one utility and one recon/attack. Magically the Blackhawk and Apache no longer became replacements to the Cobra and Huey, but supplements (huh?). The Army identified a need to replace the now aging H-1s (which of course it had done a decade previously in order to get funding for AAH and UTTAS), and plowed ahead with the LHX program to replace the AH-1/UH-1 (whcih was supposed to be replaced by the 64/60 originally, but was now only being "supplemented" but them).

Originally, the Utility LHX would have one T800 engine and the Attack would have two. There would be some common parts, but it was quickly recognized that the program was becoming two separate ariframes faster than anticipated. As the program cost rose (gee, like that's never happened in a program), the Army axed the utility program and poured it's money into upgrades and the attack version (now called Comanche).

The Army has done a good job at politically justifying the Comanche, despite some various cutbacks during Clinton. They brought out the old saw about it being C-130 transportable (like the Apache and Blackhawk were supposed to be, and like the Stryker is supposed to be, and like any system is supposed to be when it gets into trouble) and the solution to modern warfare.

They armed the OH-58D to prove that an armed reconisance aircaraft had a purpose. At first when Bell proposed the program (I was there when it happened), the Army balked at it because the were scared that it would endanger the Comanche. If an OH-58D could do much of the job, why would Congress pay for the -66? Eventually, they went with it as a platform to prove the mission, and because they needed something flying now. It worked out well in that the armed OH-58D has proven the need, but is obviously undergunned. The perfect platfrom to justify the RAH-66.

So now there is no replacement for the UH-1, other than the Blackhawk (which it was originally supposed to do). The RAH-66 program has now gone too far to be cancelled, so it will mature and be used to replace the aging AH-1s left in service and the armed OH-58Ds. In fact the RAH-66 is a favored program now, because it's just about done, so there's little risk invovled with production. This makes Congress happy because they keep their districts filled with jobs and their pockets lined with defense industry contributions, so there's not much chance that program will get cancelled. The taxpayer has already payed for all of the expensive stuff, just production is really all that's left to foot the bill for.

So the end to this very long winded post is that the RAH-66 took a long and convoluted path mainly because of the politics of procurement. Nearly every weapons system program gets bought this way. This is why your taxes get so wasted and items cost so much.

Ross
Link Posted: 11/23/2003 12:47:41 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 11/23/2003 12:50:57 PM EDT by GunnyG]

Originally Posted By ArmdLbrl:

Originally Posted By GunnyG:

Originally Posted By SJSAMPLE:
...but I'm not sure the USMC would forego their paid for Cobras for heavy payments on the very expensive Comanche.



That, and the cobra & huey share many common avionics, powerplant, transmission and even airframe components, making supply easier. With the exception of the fire control system, the maintenance training required is the same. So 1 mech is fluent in either airframe.



True, but someday they will wear out, ...




from H1 Program Commonality
The AH-1Z and UH-1Y have 84% commonality with identical components. Just as the AH-1W is being rebuilt and redesigned into the AH-1Z, the US Marine Corps Huey helicopters are being rebuilt and redesigned as well. The UH-1N or HH-1N can be rebuilt into the UH-1Y, which combines the traditional reliability of the Huey series with outstanding performance and state-of-the-art dynamics and avionics. For a modern military force seeking the highest return on its investments, the logical decision is to acquire a fleet of AH-1Zs for the armed mission and UH-1Ys for the utility mission. This excellent pair of aircraft is the most modern and capable of their type going into production today. They also share identical dynamics and nearly identical cockpits, and this commonality vastly reduces the logistical tail, procurement costs, and training expenses required to support a large fleet of mixed type aircraft. An additional benefit of commonalty is that dual-aircraft ratings require little investment in extra training.



The naval aviation depots have a fine tradition of prying up the serial number plate and installing a new airframe underneath (i.e., the CH-46)!


Link Posted: 11/23/2003 12:52:23 PM EDT

Originally Posted By GunnyG:

Originally Posted By SJSAMPLE:
...but I'm not sure the USMC would forego their paid for Cobras for heavy payments on the very expensive Comanche.



That, and the cobra & huey share many common avionics, powerplant, transmission and even airframe components, making supply easier. With the exception of the fire control system, the maintenance training required is the same. So 1 mech is fluent in either airframe.



The USMC has doen extremely well in keeping the H-1 common across utility and attack lines. Of course they had the advantage of purchasing later models in the first place that allowed this, but it is a great advantage. In the Army versions of the Huey and Cobra, there was very little that was common in the supply system. Completely different powertrain, airframe and controls. The USMC did better in that they bought models that were common to begin with, had greater growth potential (because they were newer and twin engine) and have upgraded both at the same time to maintain that commonality.

The Army had settled on the "D" and later "H" for utility, and bought in such lagre number in the war, that when the AH-1G came out (which was a skinny UH-1M) they started out as two different airframes from the begining. The "G" was a good buy, in that much of the "C/M" (same Huey, different engine) that already equipped attack units in the Army had more in common with the "G" than the "H" did, so supply didn't really get omore complicated for the Army. It just stayed two different airframes.

Ross
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