The US Army has announced its long-awaited Aviation Modernization Plan, centered on buying 1,213 RAH-66 Comanche helicopters. The plan includes three phases. In the first, older aircraft would be retired. In the second, the Army would begin creating a new structure and doctrine. By 2020, the third phase (the "objective force") would be in place. Some details of the plan:
@ The last 377 AH-1 Cobras will be retired by 2001.
@ The last 286 UH-1s and the OH-58A/Cs will be retired by 2004.
@ OH-58Ds will be used as substitutes for Comanches until Comanches are available and then will be phased out.
@ Each new multifunction aviation battalion will include 10 RAH-64 Comanches, 10 AH-64D Apaches, and 10 UH-60L Blackhawks.
@ The Army will begin buying 72 Comanches each year starting in 2010.
@ More AH-64As will be upgraded to AH-64Ds. These will get second-generation forward-looking infra-red systems, advanced rotors, and digital systems.
@ UH-60As will be upgraded to the UH-60L standard starting in 2003, reaching 60 aircraft per year by 2006. More UH-60Ls will be bought. If the Common Engine Program is implemented, the Army will upgrade these to the UH-60X configuration.
@ Three Hundred CH-47D heavy lift helicopters will be upgraded to CH-47Fs. These will be used until 2020 and will then be replaced by the Future Transport Rotorcraft.--Stephen V Cole