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MAG: COMANCHE = TURKEY

comanche_small.JPGThe Army's helicopter of the future, the RAH-66 Comanche, is a turkey, according to Aviation Week."In its initial inccarnation, it will be unable to communicate with other services or command-and-control aircraft, have no active protection against anti-aircraft missiles and no blast wall between the two crewmen," the magazine says. "Any hit in the cockpit... will likely disable or kill both.""'Will the Army risk a $47-million helicopter in a mission over Baghdad?' asked an Army program official. 'It's not likely, yet the Comanche is eating up 39% of the Army aviation budget. All the other small aviation programs have been killed.'"The Army's array of copters, drones, and planes have been under intense scrutiny since Gulf War II. On a single day during the conflict, two Apache helicopters were shot down, and thirty more were turned back by rocket-propelled grenades. Since then, a handful of Army Black Hawk and Chinook helicopters have been downed by insurgents armed with shoulder-fired missiles.THERE'S MORE: Another Apache just went down west of Baghdad, the Times reports. Luckily, the both crew members survived.AND MORE: "I'm not sure about calling the fate of an aircraft before it's fought," e-mails Defense Tech reader Wyatt Earp.What's more, he says, "Aviation Week and other aerospace-related magazines haven't been making accurate calls on new systems in the last 15-20 years."The F-117A was called the "Wobbly Goblin" when it first appeared in public view, he notes. The B-2A was labelled a "relic of the Cold War." Yet both have done well since their initial bad reviews.AND MORE: National Defense has more on the Comanche debate, noting that the original order for 1200 copters has been cut in half.AND MORE: "What the future of Comanche is as we look down the road is still an open question," Gen. Peter Schoomaker tells Army Times.

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