The US Army's ambitious LHX (Light Helicopter Experimental) programme called for a new armed reconnaissance/scout helicopter to replace the service's force of 3 000 AH-1s, OH-6s and OH-58s. A request for proposals was issued in June 1988, and 23-month demonstration and validation contracts were placed with two industrial teamings: the 'Super Team' (Bell and McDonnell Douglas) and the 'First Team' (Boeing and Sikorsky).
In April 1991 the designation and name RAH-66 Comanche were selected and the First Team was announced as winner. The Comanche is designed for minimum observability and is based on a stealthy airframe built largely of composite materials.
Its advanced avionics are designed for maximum commonality with the F-22 Raptor, and include dual triplex fly-by-wire control systems with sidestick cyclic pitch controllers, a 'glass' cockpit with two large liquid-crystal displays in each cockpit, advanced crew helmet displays and sights, a comprehensive self-protection suite, and provision for Longbow radar.
Development of the RAH-66 Comanche has been slowed by technical considerations as well as political antipathy and budgetary delays. The definitive programme emerged in 1995, and called for two YRAH-66 flying prototypes (the first flying on 4 January 1996) plus six 'early operational capability' helicopters with reconnaissance equipment but no armament for trials from 2001. In 1998 the planned total was 1292 helicopters with the possibility of 389 to be added later, however the whole programme was canceled in 2004.