America’s lost stealth helicopter – RAH 66 Comanche
he US has long led the world in stealth technologies, and for a time, it looked as though America’s love for all things low-observable would extend all the way into rotorcraft like the RAH-66 Comanche helicopter.
Despite being only a decade away from ruin, the Soviet Union remained a palpable threat to the security and interests of the United States at the beginning of the 1980s. However, elements of America’s defense apparatus were beginning to look a bit long in the tooth after decades of posturing, deterrence, and the occasional proxy war.
With the Soviet Union was believed to still be funneling a great deal of money into their own advanced military projects, the US Army set to work on finding a viable replacement for their fleets of Vietnam-era light attack and reconnaissance helicopters in its forward-looking Light Helicopter Experimental (LHX) program.
The program’s intended aim was fairly simple despite the complexity of the effort: To field a single rotorcraft that could replace the UH-1, AH-1, OH-6, and OH-58 helicopters currently parked in Army hangars.
By the end of the decade, the Army announced that two teams, Boeing-Sikorsky and Bell-McDonnell Douglas, had met the requirements for their proposal, and they were given contracts to develop their designs further. In 1991, Boeing-Sikorsky won out over its competition and was awarded $2.8 billion to begin production on six prototype helicopters.
The need for a stealth helicopter