VAN NUYS, Calif. -- A new vertical-lift aircraft designed exclusively as a weapon system was rolled out today for the U.
VAN NUYS, Calif. -- A new vertical-lift aircraft designed exclusively as a weapon system was rolled out today for the U.S. Army at the Lockheed-California Company's Van Nuys plant.
Heavily armed and instrumented, the winged AH-56A, named "Cheyenne," will take off, hover, and land like a helicopter but will fly forward with the high speed and maneuverability of a fixed wing airplane.
Its mission--to escort troop-carrying helicopters and provide direct fire support in combat landing zones.
Top speed will be nearly twice that of the fastest 'copters now in Vietnam combat--more than two hundred and fifty miles an hour, and it will stop quickly to hover in mid-air.
A two-man crew will be protected by armorplate. The gunner has a full-circle swivelling seat for complete fire coverage, The pilot, too--with a gun-sight on his helmet-will be able to fire weapons.
This aircraft begins immediately a series of tests leading to the first flight later this year, with the company's chief engineering pilot, Herman Salmon, and Don Segner scheduled to be at the controls (in flight suits on film).
It is the first of ten prototypes being developed under Army direction by Lockheed--under Vice President Jack Real (shown on film) for the Army's Materiel Command. Resident Army program director is Lt. Col. Woodbury Johnson (on film in uniform).
The advanced AH-56A can carry anti-tank missiles, rockets, a grenade launcher, and a machine gun in its belly.
It will fly low over the "nap of earth" to avoid detection. Its ferry range--nearly three thousand statute miles without payload -- is enough for non-stop flight across the United States.
The General Electric jet engine--(the T64-16) with thirty-four hundred horsepower--can be replaced if just thirty minutes, one feature of the craft's modular design.
Called an Advanced Aerial Fire Support System, the new Army weapon is designed around Lockheed's rigid-rotor concept for vertically-rising aircraft. The rotor blades are attached rigidly to the hub, providing outstanding stability and control--and a most effective firing platform.
(On film) Lockheed's Model 286, also a rigid rotor helicopter, hovers over the new Army AH-56A.
The AH-56A is the result of "systems concept" design--with vehicle, instruments, weaponry and ground support equipment conceived as a total system. It is one of the first major weapons system originated under the Department of Defense's contract definition concept.
It has been described is Senate budget hearings by Army chief of Research and Development Lieutenant Austin W. Betts as "the most versatile and potent aerial weapons system the Army has ever developed."