posted on Aug, 13 2004 @ 06:31 PM
As part of the AAFSS request the Army made in 1963, the Lockheed Corporation responded with a unique and novel helichopter the AH-56A Cheyenne. This
was the first in a series of ground up dedicated gunships that the Army would look at. The ultimate result of this was the AH-64D APache, and the now
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. 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 maximum speed of 214 knots, cruise speed of 197 knots, a service ceiling of 26,000 feet, maximum range of 547 nautical miles, and could climb
3,420 feet per minute.
Lockheed rolled-out the first prototype on May 3, 1967. Because of the advanced technologies in the AH-56 Cheyenne, the program ran into serious
delays and cost overruns. Thus, Congress was severely critical of the program. However, advocates of the AH-56 Cheyenne argued that the program was
about to succeed, but it would still take several years for this aircraft actually to go into the field and help soldiers on the ground. 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.
Another less mentioned reason was that newer man portable AA missiles made it a target, and the fact that it had wings violated the Key West Agreement
that only the AF could operate fixed winged attack aircraft.