WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Army has notified Congress of an aviation plan that affirms its commitment to buying 1,213 new-generation Comanche attack helicopters for $43 billion over the next two decades, officials said today.

There had been speculation in Congress and within the military that Gen. Eric Shinseki, the Army chief of staff, would scale back the Comanche program to pay for a planned overhaul of the rest of the Army.

Army officials were to provide details of the aviation plan at a Pentagon news conference today.

In advance of the news conference, Army officials speaking on condition of anonymity said the plan includes a commitment to fielding Comanches starting in 2006 and completing the buy of 1,213 choppers by 2024.

The plan also calls for accelerating the retirement of the Army's oldest helicopters, the AH-1 Cobras and UH-1 Hueys, the officials said. The Army also will convert more AH-64 Apache attack helicopters to the D-model ``Longbow'' configuration, which gives it more offensive and defensive capabilities.