Airbus Helicopters will introduce 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 trade show. Starting with new orders placed this year for 17 additional Lakota helicopters, the US Army will welcome the newest series — known as the UH-72B — to their fleet in 2021. Airbus has delivered more than 460 UH72A Lakota helicopters to the US Army, Navy and National Guard, with the 463rd and final UH-72A model slated for delivery in September.
“Since we first began operations with the UH-72 Lakota some 15 years ago, this helicopter has been the workhorse of the Army and National Guard, saving lives, assisting in disaster relief, training thousands of pilots, and, more importantly, helping to protect our communities and our country,” said COL Calvin Lane, US Army Project Manager for Utility Helicopters. “Procuring the UH-72B Lakota provides tremendous value with no research and development costs for the Army.”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 Army is leveraging the benefits of a commercial off the shelf (COTS) program by receiving product improvements and enhancements through the evolution of the aircraft, without investing any government money into the development of those capabilities.
“This is welcome news for the men and women building the Lakota in Mississippi, as we expand our production capabilities and prepare for a successful future for the Lakota,” said Scott Tumpak, vice president responsible for Airbus military helicopter programs in the U.S. “Since 2006, every single Lakota has been delivered on time and on cost by our American workforce, whose pride of workmanship is evident in every aircraft we deliver.” 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, outstanding operational reliability, and unmatched versatility for a broad spectrum of military missions. Airbus Helicopters builds the Lakota at its production facility in Columbus, Mississippi, which employs a workforce that is made up of 40% veterans. Since the program’s beginning in 2006, the Army and National Guard have amassed nearly 800,000 total flight hours. The UH-72A is the primary rotary-wing training aircraft for the Army, and serves in roles as diverse as search and rescue, disaster relief, counterdrug operations, and live-saving MEDEVAC flights.