The Colorado National Guard Army Aviation Support Facility received the first two of 18 UH-72B Lakota helicopters purchased by the Department of Defense exclusively for the U.S. Army National Guard August 4, 2022. Nine states will receive two B models based on their previous UH-72A utilization and domestic operations support mission sets and environmental factors. UH-72Bs are more powerful than UH-72A. The power margins on the UH-72A made them unusable for hoist rescue operations at higher elevations in Colorado’s mountains. These new helicopters are now closer in power margins to the state’s UH-60 fleet, and the Colorado Hoist Rescue Team can use the new Lakotas at higher elevations.
“The Colorado National Guard will utilize the new platform primarily for counter-drug and search and rescue in Colorado. The increased aircraft capabilities over the UH-72A in support of domestic operations will help lessen the load on our UH-60 fleet. The UH-72B is not a warfighting aircraft. This means that, traditionally, if our UH-60s were deployed in a federal capacity, we would be unable to support as many domestic operations missions locally. Pairing their lower cost of operation and higher power margins means we can save flying hours for our UH-60s,” State Army Aviation Officer U.S. Army Col. William Gentle, Colorado Army National Guard, said.
“We constantly campaign for high-tech capabilities and capitalize on Colorado’s cutting-edge, integrated partners in the civil and defense sectors,” The Adjutant General of Colorado U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Laura Clellan said.
“The UH-72B (Airbus H-145 D3) has 25 percent more power than the UH-72A, along with a redesigned 5-bladed rotor system, fenestron (enclosed) tail rotor, and 4-axis autopilot that allows for hands-off hovering,” Instructor Pilot and Colorado Hoist Rescue Team Program Manager U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 3 Clayton Horney said.
The Colorado Hoist Rescue Team’s mission is to incorporate civilian alpine rescue personnel and military helicopter capabilities to improve Colorado search and rescue systems, operations, and training. The CHRT has saved 13 lives year-to-date. UH-72Bs cost roughly half as much to operate as UH-60s, benefitting the Army and the state. 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 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 U.S. Army’s Light Utility Helicopter since the first Lakota contract award in 2006.