Airbus U.S. Space & Defense Inc., Arlington, Virginia, was awarded a $119,788,924 modification to contract for an extension of contractor logistics support services for the Eurocopter (now Airbus Helicopters) UH-72 Lakota light utility military helicopter. 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. Work will be performed in Grand Prairie, Texas, with an estimated completion date of June 30, 2022.
The UH-72 Lakota is a twin-engine helicopter with a single, four-bladed main rotor. 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. 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. It performs logistics and support missions within the US for homeland security, disaster response missions, and medical evacuations.
The UH-72 is designed to take on a range of missions, from general support and medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) to personnel recovery and counter-narcotics operations. They are planned to replace the UH-1 and OH-58A/C, which are older light utility helicopters, and supplant other types in domestic use, primarily those in Army National Guard service. The UH-72 is being procured as a commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) product, which simplifies logistics support of the fleet. EADS NA has teamed with Sikorsky to provide Contractor Logistics Support (CLS) for the UH-72, through its Helicopter Support, Inc. (HSI)/Sikorsky Aerospace Maintenance. (SAM) subsidiaries.
The basic UH-72A is simply a commercial EC145 helicopter that has a US Army color scheme and is fitted with an AN/ARC-231 radio. Other than utility transport, the Lakota can be configured for medical evacuation, VIP transport, security and support, and opposing forces training. It is described as the best military aircraft in the inventory for domestic operations, used by the Army National Guard for state support, disaster relief, and homeland defense and by non-deployed active units for MEDEVAC and training.
The Security & Support Mission Equipment Package (S&S MEP) equipped on the UH-72A allows for homeland security, counter-drug, and border patrol missions to be performed. This package includes an electro-optical/infrared sensor and laser pointer turret, moving map system and touch-screen displays, video management system, digital video recorded and datalink, searchlight, and rescue hoist from the MEDEVAC package. Compared to the previous UH-1 Huey used in those roles, the Lakota flies faster, has an external hoist system, and has a fully integrated computerized cockpit.