Janes reported that the US Army received its final Airbus Helicopters UH-72A Laktoa support helicopter in the third quarter of 2020, ahead of the commencement of 17 UH-72B standard Lakotas deliveries in 2021. The last of 463 UH-72A Laktoas was delivered from the American Eurocopter factory in Columbus, Mississippi, in September 2020. Since deliveries commenced in 2006, the US Army and National Guard have amassed nearly 800,000 total flight hours. In October 2006, American Eurocopter was awarded a production contract for 345 aircraft to replace aging Bell UH-1H/V Iroquois and Bell OH-58A/C Kiowa helicopters in the US Army and Army National Guard fleets.
The Eurocopter (now Airbus Helicopters) UH-72 Lakota is a twin-engine helicopter with a single, four-bladed main rotor. The UH-72 is a militarized version of the Eurocopter EC145 and was built by American Eurocopter (now Airbus Helicopters, Inc.), a division of Airbus Group, Inc. Initially marketed as the UH-145, the helicopter was selected as the winner of the United States Army’s Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) program on 30 June 2006. The name Lakota was also formally announced for the type, following the service’s tradition of giving Native American names to its helicopters. It performs logistics and support missions within the US for homeland security, disaster response missions, and medical evacuations.
Airbus Helicopters, Inc. will introduced the newest series of its Lakota helicopter to the U.S. Army’s fleet, the company announced at the 2020 National Guard Association of the United States (NGAUS) virtual tradeshow. Starting with new orders placed last year for 17 additional Lakota helicopters, the U.S. Army will welcome the newest series – known as the UH-72B – to their fleet in 2021. The UH-72B will enter service for the U.S. Army National Guard and is the latest iteration of the same commercial, off-the-shelf aircraft that has been the Army’s Light Utility Helicopter since the first Lakota contract award in 2006.
The UH-72B is based on the widely successful H145, which incorporates various product improvements that have been developed during the lifecycle of the commercial aircraft. The efficient Fenestron tail rotor, more powerful engines, enhanced controls and the Airbus Helionix avionics suite, to name a few, will provide added benefits for mission safety and flight performance. With more than nine configurations available, the Lakota delivers proven performance and unmatched versatility for a broad spectrum of military missions. The U.S. Army is leveraging the benefits of a commercial off the shelf (COTS) program without investing any government money into the development of those capabilities.