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RAH-66 Comanche: The Self- Inflicted Termination Exploring the Dynamics of Change in Weapons Procurement Julien Demotes-Mainard Sciences Po Toulouse DAU,

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Presentation on theme: "RAH-66 Comanche: The Self- Inflicted Termination Exploring the Dynamics of Change in Weapons Procurement Julien Demotes-Mainard Sciences Po Toulouse DAU,"— Presentation transcript:

1 RAH-66 Comanche: The Self- Inflicted Termination Exploring the Dynamics of Change in Weapons Procurement Julien Demotes-Mainard Sciences Po Toulouse DAU, April 2012

2 An Unusual Case of Program Termination Cancellation : Army decision Cancellation : Army decision 2004: the RAH-66 was – finally – on track 2004: the RAH-66 was – finally – on track Few in the Army were reluctant to terminate it Few in the Army were reluctant to terminate it Stated Reason for Termination: Restore the balance in the Aviation budget Restore the balance in the Aviation budget

3 Remaining Question How the program went from a top priority status down to a termination nobody seriously opposed in the Army? How the program went from a top priority status down to a termination nobody seriously opposed in the Army? Approach and methodology Decision-making process ( ) Decision-making process ( ) Official documents and interviews Official documents and interviews

4 The « Flying Humvee » AirLand Battle doctrine AirLand Battle doctrine A versatile airframe A versatile airframe LHX : consensus between the Aviation branch and the Army civilian leadership LHX : consensus between the Aviation branch and the Army civilian leadership “Humvee is a very good engine and chassis you can reconfigure; it can be an ambulance, it can be a truck, it can carry a machine gun, it can do a lot of things. Ambrose wanted a helicopter just like that.” (P. L. Francis, personal communication, November 18, 2010)

5 The Stealth Requirement Western perception of an increasing Soviet threat Western perception of an increasing Soviet threat OSD’s choice for stealth OSD’s choice for stealth […] in attack aircraft that would need to penetrate hostile airspace, there was an emerging consensus on the need to reduce the signature of the airplanes in every dimension, and stealth was a particularly salient element of that debate in the 1980s. (D. S. C. Chu, personal communication, June 27, 2011)

6 Losing its Rationale Perestroika/Glasnost – Fall of the Berlin Wall: Defense budget is dropping Defense budget is dropping LHX is coming under scrutiny LHX is coming under scrutiny Collapse of the USSR (1991): Comanche’s development is streamlined Comanche’s development is streamlined

7 Finding a New Role inside the Army Two issues for the RAH-66 : Budget Budget Mission Mission Program office/TRADOC strategy: Build flying prototypes Build flying prototypes Increase Comanche’s ISR capabilities Increase Comanche’s ISR capabilities …but the initiative has conflicting effects

8 War on Terror: The Final Stroke GWOT : a new kind of war GWOT : a new kind of war But up until 2003 Comanche remains secured (Objective Force) But up until 2003 Comanche remains secured (Objective Force) Change comes with Gen. Peter Schoomaker Special Forces bring new operational perspective Special Forces bring new operational perspective The RAH-66 is terminated in February 2004 The RAH-66 is terminated in February 2004

9 Conclusion Lack of a broad-based support, fluctuating commitment Lack of a broad-based support, fluctuating commitment The program was transformed into an ISR platform to secure an incontestable role within the Army The program was transformed into an ISR platform to secure an incontestable role within the Army But Comanche’s constituency had remained fragile: after Shinseki departure, the subsequent merger of the Army’s and OSD’s operational perspectives killed the program But Comanche’s constituency had remained fragile: after Shinseki departure, the subsequent merger of the Army’s and OSD’s operational perspectives killed the program Service’s support for a given program can significantly change over time, and has to be examined in order to explain termination Service’s support for a given program can significantly change over time, and has to be examined in order to explain termination


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