The Comanche RAH-66 reconnaissance and attack helicopter was being developed by Boeing and Sikorsky for the US Army. The first flight of the Comanche took place on 4 January 1996.In an armed reconnaissance mission, Comanche could recognise and identify targets and digitally transmit the information to the battlefield commander in near real-time, select the optimum force deployment and coordinate the attack.
The airframe was crashworthy and ballistically tolerant to 23 mm gunfire. The radar cross section has been minimised, primarily by the precisely shaped fuselage and internal weapons configuration.
The helicopter had a composite five-bladed bearingless main rotor and an enclosed composite fantail tailrotor for increased anti-torque capability. The rear rotor was able to withstand impact by 12.7mm rounds and provided a 180° turn in 4.7 seconds in hover mode and an 80kt snap-turn-to-target in 4.5 seconds.
The Comanche carried its weapons internally and had a weapons bay on each side of the fuselage. The missiles are mounted on the weapon bay doors which open sideways. The internal weapon bay could be fitted with Stinger, Starstreak or Mistral air-to-air missiles; TOW II, Hot II or Longbow Hellfire air-to-ground missiles; Sura D 81mm, Snora 81mm, Hydra 70 rockets; or the army counter air weapon system.
The number of missiles on each door mounting varied, for example each door could hold three Hellfire or six Stinger missiles.
The Comanche was equipped with a turreted gun system from General Dynamics Armament Systems. The stowable externally powered three-barrel 20mm Gatling gun was capable of firing 750 or 1,500 rounds a minute. The gun was mounted on a Giat composite turret (weighing 127kg) under the nose of the helicopter. The 500 round ammunition supply system could be reloaded in less than eight minutes by two crew members
The Comanche was equipped with two T-800-LHT-801 turboshaft engines from LHTec with a maximum rated power of 1,432shp each. The internal fuel capacity of the helicopter was 1,142l.
The Comanche had two identical cockpits for the pilot and the co-pilot, which were sealed and had a positive pressure air system for protection against chemical and biological warfare. The fly-by-wire flight control system was triple redundant.
The cockpit was fitted with a pilot's night-vision system from Lockheed Martin and the pilots had a wide field of view (35° × 52°) Kaiser Electronics helmet-integrated display sighting system (HIDSS). HIDSS employed active matrix liquid crystal display (AMLCD) technology. The targets were designated and the weapons fired from collective and sidestick control push buttons.
Each integrated cockpit had Harris Corp flat screen liquid crystal displays, a colour display for a digital moving map system, tactical situation and night operation display.