Warplanes: December 30, 2001


The Army has finally admitted that it cannot field its RAH-66 Comanche helicopters as fast as it promised with the money it has. Key systems (such as the digital radio needed to talk to ground troops) are lagging behind. The original plan was to have six prototypes flying by the end of 2004 and use the data gained to moved into production, fielding a complete battalion in 2006. Everybody knew this was an impossible schedule, as there would not be time to work out the bugs and develop key systems and still produce a whole battalion's worth of aircraft. The current plan is to have some prototypes flying by the end of 2004, with an Initial Training Capability unit at Fort Rucker by 2006. Fielding of the first complete battalion at Fort Hood would not happen until at least 2008 and more likely 2010. The delays will add two billion to the development program, and aircraft will be delivered without some capabilities that would have to be added later.--Stephen V Cole




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