"It is our nation's responsibility and the Army's duty to provide our National Guard Soldiers with the tools they need to respond fully and rapidly to homeland security missions and national disasters."-Gen. Richard A. Cody, Vice Chief of Staff of the Army, said today regarding the new Lakota Light Utility Helicopter (UH-72A)
UH 72A Lakota
What is it? The Lakota Light Utility Helicopter (UH-72A) is the Army's newest aircraft. It is a light, commercially procured aircraft designed to perform a variety of missions in permissive, non-combat environments. The National Guard will be the primary user of the Lakota conducting missions in support of Homeland Security such as civil search and rescue, medical evacuation, and counter-drug operations. The Army intends to procure and field a total of 322 Lakotas beginning in FY 2006 and ending in 2015. The estimated total cost of the LUH program is approximately $5.0 billion. The Lakota is designed to transport 6 Soldiers plus its crew (2 pilots, along with 6 passengers). Additional configurations include the capability of carrying 2 NATO litters with patients and one medical attendant. Additionally, the aircraft will have a hoist for use in emergency evacuations.
What has the Army done? The Army continues to rapidly and efficiently modernize its aviation fleet. The Lakota is one of several aircraft including the Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter, the UH 60 M, and the newly refurbished CH-47 F being added to or upgraded in the Army aviation inventory with funds previously designated for the canceled Comanche helicopter.
What continued efforts does the Army plan to make in the future? Army aviation will continue to modernize as it works closely with other services now and well into the future. Source selection for the new Joint Cargo Aircraft is currently projected for early 2007. Once that is complete, it will mark the last of the new start programs to be put under contract and will mark the fulfillment of the Army's promise to modernize its aviation fleet with funds from Comanche termination.
Why is this important to the Army? The addition of these aircraft to the Army aviation inventory will strengthen the National Guard's ability to support Homeland Security missions while freeing up UH-60 Black Hawks for use in combat if needed.
For more information on the Lakota and other Army aircraft see: www.peoavn.army.mil/pm/uh.shtml
For additional information on the Army's Modernization Plan