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HISTORIC U.S. ARMY HELICOPTERS

Modern era helicopters (Page 3 of 3)

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Historic U.S. Army Helicopters - Table of Contents

bulletWorld War II thru early Vietnam era helicopters (Page 1 of 3)
bulletEarly Platt-LePage models (1940-1942) *
bulletEarly model Sikorsky military helicopters (1942-1943)
bulletYR-13/H-13/OH-13 Series Sioux light observation helicopter (1946)
bulletH-23/OH-23 Series Raven light observation helicopter (1948)
bulletH-19/UH-19 Series Chickasaw utility helicopter (1949)
bulletH-21/CH-21 Series Shawnee assault helicopter (1952)
bulletH-25A Army Mule light cargo helicopter (1951)
bulletCH-34 Choctaw cargo helicopter (1954)
bulletCH-37 Series Mojave cargo helicopter (1953)
bulletCH-47 Series Chinook cargo helicopter (1961)
bulletCH-54 Series Tarhe heavy lift helicopter (1962)
bulletTH-55A Osage helicopter trainer (1964)
bulletVietnam era helicopters (Page 2 of 3)
bulletUH-1 Series Huey utility helicopter (1956)
bulletHelicopter gun ships (1963-1967)
bulletACH-47A Armed/Armored Chinook (1965-1968)
bulletU.S. Army Helicopter Weapon Systems (1958-present)
bulletU.S. Army Helicopter Weapons (1958-present)
bulletFire Control and Electronic Systems (1958-present)
bulletLight Observation Helicopter (LOH) program (1960-1968)
bulletOH-6A/HO-6 Cayuse light observation helicopter (1963)
bulletOH-58A (1969)/OH-58C (1979) Kiowa light observation helicopter
bulletAH-1 Series Huey Cobra attack helicopter (1965)
bulletModern era Helicopters (Page 3 of 3)
bulletExperimental attack helicopters (1963-1976)
bulletAdvanced Aerial Fire Support System (AAFSS) program (1964-1972)
bulletAH-56A Cheyenne attack helicopter (Prototype) (1967)
bulletAdvanced Attack Helicopter (AAH) program (1970-1981)
bulletAH-64A Apache attack helicopter (1975)
bulletUtility Tactical Transport Aircraft System (UTTAS) program (1972-1978)
bulletUH-60 Series Black Hawk combat assault helicopter (1974)
bulletArmy Helicopter Improvement Program (AHIP) (1981-1985)
bulletLight Helicopter Experimental (LHX) combat helicopter program (1983-1991)

* Note: (year) is approximate year of flight of first prototype.

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Vietnam era helicopters

Page 3 of 3
Historic U.S. Army Helicopters - Modern era helicopters

Note: A blue arrow Blue Arrow indicates a photo or line drawing that can be viewed and downloaded.

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Experimental attack helicopters (1963-1976). Anticipating the need for an interim attack helicopter, before the planned fielding of the AH-56A Cheyenne, Bell Helicopter designed several experimental model gun ships:

Bell Iroquois Warrior. Bell designed, but never built, an Iroquois Warrior. The Warrior design had a slim, streamlined low profile fuselage with retractable skids. The design featured two cockpits in tandem with the gunner located in front of, and beneath, the pilot, similar to the AH-56A Cheyenne.

Bell (model 207) Sioux Scout (1963) is interesting because of its influence on the development of the Bell (model 209) AH-1G Huey Cobra. It married Bell (model 47G-3B1) OH-13 Sioux dynamic components with a newly designed gun ship front end armed with twin turreted M60C 7.62mm machine guns. It was Bell's proof of concept for a scaled-down Iroquois Warrior to be entered in the Army's Advanced Aerial Fire Support System (AAFSS) competition. The Sioux Scout was powered by a Lycoming VO 435 265 shp turbo-supercharged engine, the same engine used in the Bell (model 47G-3B). Only one prototype was built.
Blue Arrow Bell (model 207) Sioux Scout
Blue Arrow Experimental Bell (model 207) Sioux Scout (Copyright Graham Beehag Books)

Bell (model 309) KingCobra (1971). The Bell (model 309) KingCobra was a scaled-up version of the AH-1G Cobra attack helicopter. It had a lengthened and strengthened fuselage and changes in the nose to accept a stabilized multi-sensor gun sight. It was evaluated against the AH-56A Cheyenne and the Sikorsky S-67 Blackhawk in 1972, but none were accepted by the Army. The Bell (model 309) KingCobra evolved into the Bell (model 409) YAH-63.

Bell (model 409) YAH-63 (1976) was Bell Helicopter's entry in the Advance Attack Helicopter (AAH) competition against the Hughes YAH-64.

Advanced Aerial Fire Support System (AAFSS) program (1964-71). The AAFSS was won by the Lockheed AH-56A Cheyenne. Bell entered a scaled-down version of it's Iroquois Warrior. The other competitor was the Sikorsky (S-66) (1964) which looked similar to the AH-56A Cheyenne, but had a Rotorprop tail rotor which could rotate on it's axis throught 90° to act both as an anti-torque rotor or as a pusher, thereby transforming the S-66 into a compound aircraft in cruising flight.

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Lockheed AH-56A Cheyenne attack helicopter (Prototype) (1967). The Lockheed AH-56A was designed to meet the U.S. Army's requirement for the Advance Aerial Fire Support System (AAFSS). Lockheed rolled-out the first prototype on May 3, 1967. The rigid-rotor Cheyenne, with a crew of two, featured a XM112 swiveling gunner's station linked to rotating belly and nose turrets, and a laser range-finder tied to a fire control computer. It was armed with an XM52 30mm automatic gun in the belly turret and a XM51 40mm grenade launcher or a XM53 7.62mm Gatling machine gun in the chin-turret, TOWs, and XM200 2.75 inch rocket launchers. Ten prototypes were completed before the program was terminated August 9, 1972 due to delayed development, rising costs, and the appearance of two competitive company-funded initiatives by Sikorsky and Bell. The Army wanted a smaller, more agile Advanced Attack Helicopter (AAH) with a less complicated fire control and navigation system. The helicopter's mission would eventually be assumed by the Boeing (formerly McDonnell Douglas) AH-64 Series Apache attack helicopter. The Cheyenne had a single rigid four-bladed main rotor and anti-torque tail rotor, and a three-bladed pusher. The Cheyenne was powered by one General Electric T64-GE-16 3435 shp turbine engine. The AH-56A had a speed of 246 mph (214 knots).
Blue Arrow AH-56A Cheyenne attack helicopter (Prototype) (Source US Army AMCOM)
Blue Arrow AH-56A Cheyenne prototype in flight
Blue Arrow Cheyenne at U.S. Army Aviation Museum, Ft. Rucker, AL (Source USAAM)
Blue Arrow AH-56A Cheyenne prototype in flight showing nose and belly turret (Copyright Graham Beehag Books)

Sikorsky (S-67) Blackhawk (Prototype) (1970). When the Cheyenne failed to live up to expectations, Sikorsky offered an intermediate aircraft consisting of an armed version of it's S-61 (which evolved into the Sea King). Sikorsky then designed a simplified AAFSS using the maximum number of components from the S-61. The result was the Sikorsky (S-67) Blackhawk, which featured a five-bladed main rotor and tail rotor. The main wheels were retractable. It had speed brakes on the wing trailing edges, which also improved maneuverability. The Blackhawk was put through a long series of tests from 1970 to 1974, but was judged unsatisfactory by the Army. The S-67 was fitted with night vision systems, a Tactical Armament Turret (TAT-140) with a 30mm cannon, 16 130mm TOWs, and 2.75 inch rockets or Sidewinder air-to-air missiles. The S-67 established an E-1 class world speed record on December 14, 1970 by flying at 216.84 mph (249.53 knots) over a 1.86 mile (3km) course. Near the end of the test program, the Blackhawk, by substituting a ducted fan for the tail unit, reached a speed of 230 mph (264.7 knots) in a test dive in 1974. The Blackhawk was powered by two General Electric T58-GE-5 1500 shp engines.
Blue Arrow
Sikorsky (S-67) Blackhawk attack helicopter (Prototype)

Bell (model 309) KingCobra (Prototype) (1971). One of only two prototypes crashed. The other took part in comparative trials in 1972 with the Lockheed AH-56A Cheyenne and the Sikorsky (S-67) Blackhawk, but the U.S. Army decided none matched its requirement. The Bell (model 309) KingCobra had a laser day and night sight, infrared fire control system, and night vision TV. Armament was similar to that of the Cheyenne and the Blackhawk. The KingCobra was powered by a single Lycoming T55-L-7C 2850 shp engine.
Blue Arrow Bell (model 309) KingCobra (Prototype)

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Advanced Attack Helicopter (AAH) program (1970-1981). The Advanced Attack Helicopter program was won by the Hughes (model 77) YAH-64 in competition with the Bell YAH-63 (1976).

Bell (model 409) YAH-63 was armed with a General Electric XM188 three-barrel 30mm automatic gun mounted in a 20mm/30mm universal turret mounted beneath the nose. A chin-mounted stabilized sight incorporated night vision forward-looking infrared (FLIR), optics, and laser. The fire control system included both helmet sights and a direct fire sight. A stabilized telescope was used by day or a infrared sight was used by night. Air-launched weapons included up to 16 TOW anti-tank rockets and up to 76 2.75-inch rockets. The YAH-63 had an "I" tail that featured a conspicuous ventral fin with a top mounting tail plane. The YAH-63 provided protective armor for the crew and 30mm ammunition stowage compartments. It also incorporated engine plume and hot metal signature suppression. The YAH-63 had a wide-chord two-bladed main and stainless steel tail rotor. It was powered by two General Electric T700-GE-700 1536 shp engines. Only two prototypes were built.
Blue Arrow Bell (model 409) YAH-63 (Prototype) in flight
Blue Arrow Bell YAH-63 (Prototype) (Copyright Graham Beehag Books)

AH-64A Apache attack helicopter (1975). The Boeing (McDonnell Douglas) (Hughes model 77) YAH-64 Apache featured two-place crew seats arranged in tandem, as in the Huey Cobra. The Apache was equipped with a Northrop Target Acquisition and Designation Sight (TADS), with direct-view optics, passive forward-looking infrared (FLIR), low-light-level television, laser range finder with target designator, a laser tracker, integrated with a pilot's night vision sensor (PNVS), and a computerized fire control system. The system also features the Honeywell Integrated Helmet and Display Sighting System (IHADSS) which allows for quick and flexible traget acquisition by both crew menbers. The Apache features lightweight boron armor shields in the cockpit floor and sides that can withstand hits from 23mm high-explosive or armor-piercing shells. The YAH-64, was armed with the XM230E1 30mm chain gun, up to 16 Hellfire missiles, and up to 76 2.75 inch rockets. The YAH-64 was type classified as the AH-64A Apache attack helicopter. The Apache received its production go-ahead in March 1982 with initial deliveries beginning in January 1984. The AH-64A was initially fielded with the 6th Calvary at Fort Hood, Texas in 1986. The Apache has a articulated four-bladed main rotor and four-bladed tail rotor. The Apache is powered by twin General Electric T700-GE-701 1698 shp turboshaft engines, and has a speed of 184 mph (160 knots).
Blue Arrow Hughes (model 77) YAH-64 Apache (Prototype) (Source Helicopter's History Site)
Blue Arrow AH-64A Apache attack helicopter

Utility Tactical Transport Aircraft System (UTTAS) program (1972-1978). The UTTAS was designed for troop transport, command and control, MedEvac, and reconnaissance, to replace the UH-1 Series Huey in the combat assault role. In August 1972, the U.S. Army selected the Sikorsky (model S-70) YUH-60A and the Boeing-Vertol (model 237) YUH-61A (1974) as competitors in the Utility Tactical Transport Aircraft System (UTTAS) program. The Boeing Vertol YUH-61A had a four-bladed composite rotor, was powered by the same General Electric T700 engine as the Sikorsky YUH-60A, and could carry 11 troops. In December 1976 Sikorsky won the competition to produce the UH-60A, subsequently named the Black Hawk. The Sikorsky (S-76) H-76 Eagle was based on technology developed for the UH-60A.
Blue Arrow Boeing Vertol (model 237) YUH-61A
Blue Arrow Boeing Vertol YUH-61A (Copyright Graham Beehag Books)

UH-60 Series Black Hawk combat assault helicopter (1974). The first production UH-60A Black Hawks were delivered to the U.S. Army Aviation Center, for training, at Fort Rucker, Alabama, in April 1979. The first unit equipped was the 101st Airborne Division Screaming Eagles at Fort Campbell, KY, on June 19, 1979. The U.S. Army procured UH-60A Black Hawk between 1978 and 1989. The Black Hawk replaced the UH-1 Series Huey in air support, airmobile cavalry and air ambulance units. For additional information on the UH-60 series Black Hawk, go to the U.S. Army Helicopter Info page.
Blue Arrow UH-60s from Fort Stewart, Georgia armed with M60D door guns (with blank firing attachments) on M144 armament subsystem

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Army Helicopter Improvement Program (AHIP). The U.S. Army Helicopter Improvement Program, won by Bell Helicopter in September 1981, led to the development of the versatile armed Bell (model 406) OH-58D Kiowa Warrior scout helicopter. In its role as the Army's multi-purpose light helicopter, the AHIP can be reconfigured for use as a troop transport, MedEvac, or for external lift missions using an external hook. The OH-58D completed operational tests in March 1985.
Blue Arrow Experimental OH-58D Kiowa Warrior in flight
Blue Arrow Starboard (right) side view of experimental OH-58D Kiowa Warrior

Light Helicopter Experimental (LHX) combat helicopter program (1983-1991). The LXH was a program to replace the Army's rapidly aging fleet of OH-58A Kiowa scout and AH-1 Cobra light attack helicopters with a light survivable, lethal, armed reconnaissance helicopter. The LHX combat helicopter was to have greater capabilities, new sensors, millimeter wave radar, and other advance features in a high visibility cockpit. Maximum use was to made of computer-aided design of the LHX and systems as an integrated whole.

Bell-McDonnell Douglas LH Super Team. Two "teams" presented designs to the Army for evaluation. The Boeing-Sikorsky LH First Team and the Bell-McDonnell Douglas LH Super Team. Though the Bell-McDonnell Douglas LH Super Team combat helicopter was never built, the design was to have featured Bell's 680 all-composite four-bladed rotor system and McDonnell Douglas Helicopter System's NOTAR (No Tail Rotor). The LH Super Team was to have had an all-composite fuselage, retractable landing gear, fly-by-wire flight controls, and state-of-the-art crew stations.
Blue Arrow
Bell-McDonnell Douglas LH Super Team drawing

Sikorsky (S-75) ACAP. The Advanced Composite Airframe Program (ACAP) was an all-composite Sikorsky early LHX proof of concept aircraft. Composite materials were used to replace metal to provide greater strength, lighter weight, lower manufacturing costs, and reduce maintenance costs.
Blue Arrow Experimental Sikorsky (S-75) ACAP

Boeing-Sikorsky MANPRINT study (1985). The original concept of the LHX program was to produce a one-man helicopter that could do more than a two-man aircraft. The Sikorsky (S-76) Helicopter Advance Demonstrator of Operators Workload (SHADOW) had a single-pilot advanced cockpit grafted to its nose. The purpose was to study the MANPRINT or human engineering interface between the pilot and the cockpit controls and displays. The cockpit was the prototype of a single-pilot cockpit designed for use on the prototype RAH-66 Comanche armed reconnaissance helicopter. The cockpit was designed so sensors would feed data to the pilot through helmet mounted displays. The MANPRINT study determined that single-pilot operation of the Comanche was unsafe, and would result in pilot overload. As result of this study, the Comanche was designed to be operated by a crew of two.
Blue Arrow
Boeing-Sikorsky (S-76) SHADOW

Boeing-Sikorsky RAH-66 Comanche (1991 - present). In January 1991 the Army selected the Boeing-Sikorsky LH First Team, redesignated the RAH-66 Comanche, to build the first two prototype LH helicopters to be delivered in 1995 and 1998. The Boeing-Sikorsky RAH-66 Comanche armed reconnaissance helicopter is the Army's first combat helicopter that is sufficiently survivable, lethal, and versatile enough to be equally adept at both the tactical reconnaissance and attack missions.
Blue Arrow Roll-out of RAH-66 Comanche prototype at Sikorsky Aircraft, Stratford, CT, May 25, 1995

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The Cobra legacy. Experience with the AH-1G Huey Cobra led to the development of a new generation of gun ships, the Boeing (McDonnell Douglas, formerly Hughes) AH-64 Series Apache attack helicopter and the Boeing-Sikorsky RAH-66 Comanche armed reconnaissance helicopter prototype.

Source Material:
Fighting Helicopters of the 20th Century by Christopher Chant, Graham Beehag Books, Christchurch, Dorset, England, 1996.

Disclaimer: The appearance of these hyperlinks does not constitute endorsement by the U.S. Army of this web site or the information, products or services contained therein. For other than authorized activities such as military exchanges and Morale, Welfare and Recreation sites, the U.S. Army does not exercise any editorial control over the information you may find at this location. These links are provided consistent with the stated purpose of this DoD web site.
bulletBell Helicopter-Textron http://www.bellhelicopter.textron.com
bulletThe Boeing Co. http://www.boeing.com/
bulletFt. Rucker, Home of Army Aviation http://www-rucker.army.mil/
bulletHelicopter's History Site http://www.helis.com
bulletIgor Sikorsky Historical Archives, Inc. http://www.iconn.net/igor/indexlnk.html
bulletSikorsky Aircraft Corporation http://www.sikorsky.com
bulletUS Air Force Museum http://www.asc.wpafb.af.mil/museum
bulletU.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command (AMCOM) http://www.redstone.army.mil/history/aviation/
AMCOM Army Aviation videos http://www.redstone.army.mil/history/multi/interact.html#Aviation

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