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Commanche down!!

Old 02-23-2004, 04:22 PM
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Default Commanche down!!

sad to see the project get cancelled

I was looking forward to seeing it fly but oh well...
Old 02-23-2004, 05:20 PM
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Default RE: Commanche down!!

That does suck. I bet there are "plankers" somewhere behind that decision.

Old 02-24-2004, 06:01 PM
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Default RE: Commanche down!!

Spent a lot of money on that project to cancel it.

Sounds like they are going to focus more on the RC type of weapons. Could be cool for the younger RC guys. Lots of cool job ops there!
Old 02-24-2004, 06:21 PM
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Default RE: Commanche down!!

Well, at least they stopped before they reach a trillion.
Old 02-26-2004, 05:32 AM
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Default RE: Commanche down!!

Talk about a "Money Pit"....

Boeing/Sikorsky sucked on that thing for the better part of 21 years, and 8 billion is a VERY conservative number.....! There was a lot more money "channeled" into that project than will ever be made public. One of the problems was that the technology would become obsolete before they could even get it flight tested, along with a myriad of other problems, egos being one of them.

Lets see, two flying prototypes at 4 billion (big PLUS) each....what a bargain. It should have been canceled in 98.

Old 02-29-2004, 11:50 AM
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Default RE: Commanche down!!

It was a waste of money and I'm glad it got cancelled. I sat in a briefing to the deputy commanding general of Fort Rucker a while back and listened to results of an Analysis of Alternatives which is required for every materiel program. The results of the very expensive study conducted by a corporation consisting mainly of retired high ranking officers was that the best alternative to meet the mission was an ARMED UNMANNED AERIAL VEHICLE. You should have seen the look on the face of all the brass present!
What was their solution: They told the company that their initial assumptions used to conduct the study and analysis was wrong and to redo the study with new assumptions. Basically, the brass got the answer they wanted: to continue with a helicopter program that was a waste of money.

Do you guys have any idea how many blackhawks and chinooks they could have modernized with all of that money? They should have canned this program many years ago instead of continually watering down the performance requirements of this program.

Some of the program problems:

This may have been fixed, but in the late 90's it was discovered that the Commanche's environmental conditioning system/ (airconditioning designed mainly to cool the computers w/ residual to cool the pilots )could not cool the cockpit below 95 degrees for the temperature extremes it was designed to fly in. Talk about being hot in a tiny enclosed cockpit.

Did I mention that when they did their ergonomic studies of the cockpit in the Commanche they really %^&* screwed up? They used Boeing/Sikorsky built mockups of the cockpits to do their ergonomic studies and whoever built the mockups screwed up and built them actually bigger than actual. When the first prototype was rolled out, Mother Rucker (Fort Rucker) was shocked that the actual cockpit was much smaller. I sat in one of the flying commanche prototypes and my 5 foot 7 inch frame barely fit-I was extremely uncomfortable wearing all of my life support equipment. There was some talk about them spending millions to fix the cockpit problem by enlarging it and that was supposed to setback most of the flight testing that was accomplished to that point. There wasn't even enough space in the cockpit to fit 2 MRE meals as required by the requirements folks. I'm pretty sure the cockpit redesign delayed the program several years.

Another Commanche screwup. The onboard electronics/computers used so much electricity that the 2 main engine run generators couldn't produce enough power to meet the demands and/or the engine's would loose so much available lifting power to power the generators thus reducing the capabilities of the aircraft. The solution was for the Commache's auxillary power unit (APU) to run the entire time the aircraft was flying-instead of just using it to start the heli and as a backup powersource until the rotors/engines got up to normal operating rpm. As as a result of an APU running continuously, the range of the aircraft was reduced and couldn't meet the original specs in the operating requirements documents due to increased fuel burn.

The aircraft was supposed to be able to fly in a chemical and biologically dirty battlefield environment. Because of the small size of cockpit, the pilots could not wear the traditional bulky nuclear, biological,chemical (NBC) protective garments or even the newly designed/approved lightweight chemical protective undergarments. The leadership of the program didn't think this was a problem since the cabin was overpressurized to prevent chemical/biological agents from entering the cockpit and harming/killing the pilots. Oh, forgot to mention that the cockpit glass (windshields) were not bulletproof and that the aircraft couldn't be completely decontaminated if it encountered NBC agents. How was a pilot to egress his cockpit after his mission was done if his bird got contaminated on a "dirty" battlefield? Sidenote: Commanche program refused to consider an onboard sensor that would detect and warn pilots of chemically/biologically contaminated areas and avoid flight through them. They couldn't spare the 75 lbs of weight of the sensor.

Another example of Senior Army Aviation leadership failing its troops and the taxpayer.
Old 03-07-2004, 10:47 AM
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Default RE: Commanche down!!

NNNOOOOOOOOO!!! I was really looking forward to that comin out!
Old 04-12-2004, 09:14 PM
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Default RE: Commanche down!!

BUilt in APU? THats great, Just like the Chinnook. I use to see those things catch on fire quite a bit and to leave it running .
Old 04-12-2004, 10:34 PM
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Default RE: Commanche down!!

Almost every modern Army heli has a built in APU. THose larger turbines are difficult, if not impossible, to start on regular battery power and require either hydrualic or air to crank 'em.

I've never seen an APU catch fire but have heard of uncontained failures which lead to a safety message not to stand underone or to the side of one when it is running ;-)

The cancellation of the Comanche program will allow the Army to buy many more UH-60 and CH-47 helis.
Old 03-07-2005, 08:58 PM
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Default RE: Commanche down!!

Trust me, they didn't just poor money into it. They ran some pretty amazing tests and learned alot from it. Though it was too bad that it didn't reach production phase. 4billion each wasn't that bad for the first two made. Considering a loaded F-22 raptor costs 22billion each setting the record for the most expensive aircraft ever produced. My dad's company Thales Air Traffic Management ( pronounced TAL-ICE)spent well over 70 million on the Universal all weather landing system "UWLS" and came out of it with what they considered "profitable" knowlage and they seemed to think it was worth the time/money. Now that's a French company saying that they thought that their money was worth the time on a product that never even rolled onto the production line/ and or produced a profit , lol that's pretty rare. (ya I know I'm french and i'll go ahed and admit that we are picky when it comes to the check book [sm=greedy.gif] )
Old 05-31-2005, 07:24 PM
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Default RE: Commanche down!!

I can't belive it!!!! That helicopter looked nice.
Old 11-01-2005, 03:57 PM
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Default RE: Commanche down!!


When you reference the F-22 cost or abilities, I would suggest not trying to compare it to anything in existence...... there is no equal and it's greatest liability is not the cost, but rather the human pilot the military insists on allowing to hang on to it when it soars.... and in case your wondering yes, I work for Lockheed Martin….

Old 01-19-2007, 01:21 PM
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Default RE: Commanche down!!

The Commanche project was a great concept in rotory wing development. However, as stated previously, there were certain drawbacks to the system prior to its development. The environment of land combat has changed significantly since Vietnam. Now we find ourselves fighting in more urban combat with an enemy that does not distinguish its self from the civilian population. This changing enviorment combined with the recent advanced developments in STOL technology (first flight tested in the 60's) are more what caused the death of the Commanche program. We are not fighting in a NBC enviroment. We are also not fighting in an environment where the need for stealth from missles is paramount. With the development of the CMWS system, the expense of the MANPADS systems available to terrorist organizations, and the incredibly low use of them, why do you need a gun system like the Commanche when the Apache Longbow is more then adequate to neutralize the threat?

There are other disadvantages as well. The pilot work load for Apache pilots is the highest of military rotory wing pilots (excluding SOAR) and they have the highest accident rates due to this excessive workload. Commanche was to increase the pilot workload and thus increase it's accident rate potential. Commanche went with a dual monocle system (one on each eye similar to the Apache system), that the test pilots found gave them sensory overload. The system was to be transportable in 3 basic packages requiring no more then 12 special tools to assemble and repair. However, the tools required a chemical grease coating that required mechanics to wear special gloves in order for them to repair/replace airframe components. And I have heard that the weapons bay was not build large enough to house the missle system they had intended to use. (I have not confirmed this as of yet)

But there have been some real great strides in the development that I'm sure you'll see in future helicopter development. This was the first fly by wire rotory wing aircraft. They integrated the yaw control into the cyclic stick located on the right of the pilot, thus eliminating the need for pedals for the pilots. Being able to disassemble the aircraft into 3 main packages allows fast deployment in different aircraft with mission capabilities upon entry into the combat theatre. The power of the Anti-Torpue system (the Fenestron tail rotor) is amazing. It had power to give total control to the pilot while flying sideways at over 70mph. Most tail rotors today limit you to 40mph in sideward flight.

And finally, the death of the Commanche has allowed the Army to fix the lack of replacement supply issues and modernize the exhisting fleet. We now have a modern, off the shelf, aircraft to suppliment and eventually replace the OH-58D in the armed reconnisance role with the purchase of the Bell 407. National Guard units now have a commercial off the shelf helicopter designed strictly for search and rescue and RAID (Reconnisance and Interdiction Detachment, the Unit works with local Law Enforcement Agencies as support for their drug interdiction) missions in the form of the Eurocopter EC-145. Both helicopters save the Military in terms of available parts, maintenance support and virtually no Research and Development costs.

The redistribution of funds from Commanche combined with Beoing's huge CNC machine granted the Army the ability to build brand new airframes in the Foxtrot configuration to replace all 440+ D model Chinook airframes plus building completely new built Chinooks to give the Army a 600 strong Heavy Lift Chinook fleet. It has also give us the ability to fund the supply of large replacement items such as Engines, Rotor Blades, Swashplates, and Transmissions for which there has been a severe lack of available replacement parts. The sandy environment in Iraq and Afghanistan severly decrease the wear and tear of helicopter components and shortens the length of TBO (time before overhaul) items, thus requiring a higher demand for parts. The aircraft in the field get priority in parts while the aircraft at home wait. Most National Guard units state side have to hangar queen one aircraft to keep the rest flying.

The cancellation of the Commanche program will also allow the Army with the necessary funds to impliment the replacement of the UH-60 Blackhawk in the near future.

While it is a little disappointing to see an incredible aircraft program shut down, it was the right decision. It does not, and never will, make sense to fund another project at the expense of the entire Fleet. I am grateful that our Military leadership finally had the forsight to cancel a program that was far to advanced for the current and projected enviroments.

CW2 Karl Bodner
Washington Army National Guard
Pilot, CH-47D

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