UH-72A Lakota

Friday August 5, 2011

What is it?

The UH-72A Lakota is the newest helicopter to enter service with the U.S. Army. It is a variant of the Eurocopter EC-145 and is manufactured in Columbus, Miss. The Lakota performs light utility and medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) missions for the Army and Army National Guard (ARNG) in permissive, non-hostile environments.

A contract was awarded to EADS North America in June 2006 for 345 of this versatile aircraft. As of July 31, 175 helicopters have been delivered with the ARNG operating over 80 aircrafts. The UH-72A is also unique in that it is a commercial/non-developmental item aircraft that is maintained and operated in accordance with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) policies and procedures.

What has the Army done?

The Army, working with its industry partners, designed, integrated and tested the Security & Support (S&S) Battalion Mission Equipment Package (MEP), the newest variant of the LUH for the ARNG and is equipped with state-of-the-art advanced technologies such as an Electro-Optical/Infra-Red Sensor, searchlight, data display and collection systems and downlink capability. It will be used to conduct humanitarian and disaster relief efforts as well as other key missions such as border patrol and counter-drug enforcement surveillance across the U.S. and its territories. All equipment added to the UH-72A is commercially available and expedites the acquisition time.

Last fall the ARNG carried out various demonstration missions with the prototype aircraft, LUH #99, which includes surveillance, personnel insertion/extraction, patrol and high altitude rescue missions. The aircraft performed very well. Four aircraft are now being retrofitted with the MEP, and ultimately 100 UH-72A will be equipped with the first being fielded this fall.

What continued efforts does the Army have planned?

The S&S MEP is only one of several enhancements that the product office is working on for the UH-72A. This includes improved medical equipment storage and protection for the aircraft to improve readiness and maintainability. There are also specialized electronic equipment such as an Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT) and Blue Force Tracker being added to the Lakota based on field needs.

Why is this important to the Army?

The UH-72A is replacing aging UH-1 and OH-58A/C aircraft that are a high cost to maintain and operate for these missions. It allowed the Army to return 23 UH-60 Black Hawk aircrafts to support critical wartime missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Lakota provides a significant improvement over the aircraft the ARNG were operating through better performance, availability and mission equipment. The addition of the S&S MEP and other kits will only enhance its abilities.


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