Comanche gets Axed

MSNBC – Army scraps Comanche helicopter project
I was going to lead with ‘gets tomahawked’, but that seemed a little much.

This is very interesting. In an election year, the Pentagon has axed a very expensive and very delayed military program, which employs at least 400 people of Connecticut.

This has to be principle over political expediency, as this is going to drive “spending on defense is always good” hawks and “jobless recovery” groups into the same camp (temporarily). From a political approach, this would have been killed after the election. Interesting.

And the same article says the F-22 is being reviewed by the same group. I’d be sweating the numbers were I them.


  1. These programs are like hydra headed snakes, cutting off one head and declaring it dead is only the beginning.

    The Comanche was always in jeopardy following the fall of the Berlin Wall.

    It was envisioned it would work in high tech and sophisticated air threat FEBA environments found in Eastern Europe.

    With the collapse of the Soviet Union and recent incredible advances in Unmanned Aerial Vehicles technology, including arming the little beggars, the need for a stealth helicopter has been less than urgent.

    The F/A-22, however, is pretty much a sure thing ? as sure as anything can get in the Government. It fills a need and has demonstrated that it is not only feasible but its damn good. In addition, the Navy and the Marines are also going to get them. I suspect the combined whine of the USAF, USN, USMC and Lockheed will be a little too much to shut out.

    And, oh by the way, the bulk of the aircraft will be manufactured in Ft. Worth, the Prez?s home state.

    Finally, I thought they had already started or were about to start manufacturing it

  2. I am sending you an email of how effective these things are. Enjoy

  3. Darren,
    send it to jim.hogue-AT-verizon-DOT-net

  4. Darren, didn’t get the email, please resend.

    are you talking about the F-22 ( ) or the F-35 ( )? The F-22 is, I think, in trouble, as an Air Force only replacement to the F-15, while the F-35 is the all service (and a lot of export interest) fighter Lockheed is making right here in Ft. Worth.

    I think the F-22 is a terrific answer, it’s just that the questions have changed.

  5. Wow. I heard about this project when I was in elementary school (I am now in grad school). Amazing.

  6. Damn! How’d I make a mistake like that?!?!?

    I was referring to the JSF and confusing it with the 22, man, if I keep that up, I’ll lose my subscription to Jane’s!!

  7. It worries me that the USAF plans to sit down the A-10?s and use the JSF in it?s place. No, this is not a new problem but sure doesn?t make sense to me. The A-10 does a job nothing can do on the same level. Sure the JSF can supercruise (fly through the sound barrier without the use of afterburners), but what good is going fast when your trying to blow up a duce and a half lumbering along at 15 MPH?

  8. Azygos,
    I hadn?t heard that the USAF was trying to can the A-10 (is it still with active units or has it gone to the Reserves and Guard?) but I?m not surprised. The A-10 is one of those marvelous mistakes that prove serendipity still stalks the halls of the Pentagon.

    Introduced in 1976, it was initially designed to function much like the Comanche (see above) was. That is, to shoot up Soviet stuff pouring through the Fulda Gap. Designed to be highly maneuverable (so to fly behind all those damn hills in Eastern Germany and Europe) it was the first (and maybe still the only) attack aircraft that could run a strafing pass on its target, and then turn away without flying over the target; a capability that always extends pilots “shelf life.”

    It was the very first U.S. aircraft designed for and with the assistance of aircraft mechanics. Fairchild brought in flight line NCOs to advised what makes their lives hard (and conversely, easier) It was designed with a lot of redundancies and lot (and I mean LOTS) of pull and plug modules to facilitate quick turn around maintenance.

    It wasn?t very popular with the ?fighter mafia? that ran the USAF at the time and would have never realized the respect it justly deserved without the Gulf War.

    Unlike the Comanche, its capabilities were so robust that the fall of the Berlin Wall wasn?t its death knell.

    Officially named the ?Thunderbolt II?, most people associated with it just referred to it as a ?hog? and eventually the ?Warthog.? You can still find A-10 squadron patches that have the motto ?Go Ugly Early.? The AF frowned on that type of un-PC talk.

    It?s the only fixed wing combat aircraft in the AF inventory that?s so slow tankers have to slow down in order to enable the aircraft to catch up.

    In AF slang, anything that is real cool or high tech is referred to as being ?high speed, low drag.? The Hog is best described as ?low speed, high drag.?

    It did an awesome number on the Iraqi tanks in the Gulf War and suffered some really serious damage and usually returned the pilots safely. I can only recall one pilot punching out, but that?s just my personal recollection. I don?t know how many hogs or hog pilots that were lost, but I suspect it was a small number.

    I saw some photos of hogs with really big chunks of wing, tail, etc. missing that still made it back.

    I?ll be sorry to see it go, it fulfills a need we didn?t know we would need in 1976, a mean-ass tank buster for low intensity military conflicts.

  9. Thanks, for the A-10 history, Jim!

    Azygous, I think you’re confusing the F-22’s supercruise with the F-35, which will go supersonic, but I think still needs the burner. If I’m wrong about the -35 O’d be very happy, but I think that’s one of the unique selling points of the -22.


  10. P.S. The history channel’s “Modern Marvels” will highlight the A-10 at 10e/9c, tonight Friday, 27 Feb 04