The Army's newest and most advanced combat helicopter, the AH-56A "Cheyenne," demonstrated its speed, versatility, and maneuverability today (Dec 12) during its first public flight at Van Nuys, California.
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Background: The Army's newest and most advanced combat helicopter, the AH-56A "Cheyenne," demonstrated its speed, versatility, and maneuverability today (Dec 12) during its first public flight at Van Nuys, California.
Observers at the demonstration included ranking military and U. S. Government officials representatives of the prime contractor, Lockheed-California Company, and some 800 sub-contractors who helped build the technologically advanced rotorcraft.
Termed a compound helicopter, the "Cheyenne" has rotor blades as well as stub wings and a pusher propeller. The rotors, spanning a diameter of 50 feet, provide conventional helicopter performance and in conjunction with the stub wings and pusher propeller permit level flight at speeds of more than 250 miles per hour from ground level to altitudes of over 26,000 feet.
The 55-feet-long "Cheyenne" is the first Army aircraft to be designed and built as an integrated aerial serial vehicle/armament/avionics/fire control gun ship and coincidentally the first compound helicopter to be developed by any of the U. S. military forces.
Although no weapons were carried in today's flights, the versatile craft, when fully equipped, will be able to fire machine guns, grenades, rockets, and missiles. The swiveling belly turret mounts a 30mm automatic gun. Both the pilot (in the rear seat) and gunner (in the front) are protected by armor plate.
The mission of the "Cheyenne" will be to escort troop-carrying helicopters and provide direct fire support in combat zones.