Oh, the glorious years of “defending spending glut” of the 1980s.

With a massive budget allocation, the US Army took the opportunity to develop a new type of helicopter that could scout dangerous enemy territories and, simultaneously, protect itself from attacks by being equipped with the necessary armaments. Thus, in the quest for building this “could do more with less” platform, they’ve launched the Light Helicopter Experimental (LHX) program.

The program also sought to replace the Army’s aging Bell OH-58 Kiowa and Hughes OH-6 Cayuse with more survivable capabilities that could evade its air- and surface-to-air attacks.

Many manufacturers submitted their designs, but only the futuristic RAH-66 (Reconnaissance Attack Helicopter) by Boeing-Sikorsky made it through. They were awarded a whopping initial budget of about $3 billion in 1991 and were expected to deliver six prototypes, of which only two were produced.

In keeping with the Army tradition of naming helicopters for Native American tribes, the “Comanche” conformed to the design requirements of the Army to carry out both light attack and scouting roles, all while ensuring that it could evade and survive counterattacks. Its overall concept included sneaking undetected into enemy airspace and locating ground targets that could either be destroyed using its onboard weapons or neutralized using a more powerful helicopter like the AH-64 Apache, artillery, or close air support like the A-10 Thunderbolt II. The Comanche would be a set of electronic eyes data linked to other air and ground forces in real-time.

Since most of its missions involve extensive loitering near or past the front lines, exposing it to air and ground attack, the RAH-66 needed to be sneakier and quieter than its predecessor, there were a variety of methods employed to make the Comanche “stealthy” in the sense of the word in the 1980s.

This groundbreaking technology would eventually flourish on contemporary fixed-wing aircraft today like the Air Force’s F-35 Lightning. But at that time, stealth tech used in the RAH-66 , piqued the interest of the Army.

“To ensure decisive victory and a minimum loss of American lives, our fighting men and women must be equipped with state-of-the-art weapons that will give them an overwhelming advantage. The Comanche helicopters will provide the United States Army with that kind of advantage,” stated in its promotional film, circa late 1990 to early 2000s.