12/31/2007. This tandem two-seat compound helicopter was designed for
the US Army AAFSS (Advanced Aerial Fire Support System) competition of
1964, and Lockheed was declared the winner in November 1965, receiving
an engineering contract on March 23, 1966, followed by an order for
ten preproduction AH-56A-LO’s, s/n 66-8826 to 66-8835, c/n 187-1001 to
187-1010. The first AH-56A flew for the first time at Van Nuys,
California, on September 21, 1967, with Donald Segner at the controls.
A contract for 375 production aircraft was received on January 7, 1968,
the 10 pre-production aircraft were delivered by July 1968.
The aircraft was powered by a 3,925 shp General Electric T64-GE-16
shaft-turbine, that drove a four-blade rigid rotor, a four-blade
anti-torque rotor, and a three-blade reverse-pitch, pusher propeller.
Stub-wings attached to the fuselage fairings off-loaded the rotor
during high-speed flight. Armament consisted of either a machinegun, a
cannon, or a grenade launder in a nose turret, and six underwing hard
points for anti-tank missiles and/or rocket pods and/or auxiliary fuel
Technical problems, like instability, eventually resulted in a fatal
crash of the third AH-56A near Carpentina, California, on March 12,
1969. This, and significant cost overruns (67%), and pressure from the
USAF, caused the US Army to cancel the production order for 375
aircraft on May 19, 1969, while the entire program was cancelled on
August 9, 1972. Four aircraft have been preserved, the pictured
66-8831 is at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.