The UH-72 Lakota is the U.S. Army's multi-mission helicopter that has proven itself as a key platform for the U.S. Army, Navy, and National Guard in their mission of protecting and serving communities across America. Selected in June 2006 following a rigorous evaluation, it combines operational capability, reliability and affordability, fulfilling all of the Army's requirements for speed, range, endurance and overall performance. As an in-production helicopter with FAA IFR certification, the UH-72 meets the Army's commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) acquisition strategy.
The Lakota is based off the the technologically-advanced and operationally-proven H145 helicopter, which is used worldwide for law enforcement, emergency medical transportation, search and rescue, offshore and utility operations, and corporate transportation.
Incorporation of proven and new COTS technologies, combined with the UH-72's operational capabilities, result in an aircraft that is exceptionally easy and affordable to operate and maintain. Extensive use of new, lightweight manufacturing materials and extensive system modularity simplifies maintenance, reducing lifetime ownership costs and logistics requirements.
The Lakota is a mainstay of the National Guard’s Aviation capability in 47 states and territories. This includes some unique missions, such as the High Altitude ARNG Training Site (HAATS) in Eagle, Colorado and the Western ARNG Aviation Training Site (WAATS) in Murana, Arizona.
Military Services rely on the UH-72 Lakota’s versatility in multiple configurations to accomplish missions that include:
With evolving military missions, the UH-72 Lakota can support growth of new requirements with a wide range of advanced Mission Equipment Packages (MEPs).
In 2020 the Army placed a new order for the latest variant of the Lakota family of aircraft – the UH-72B. Part of the proven H145 family of aircraft, the UH-72B is the latest iteration of the same commercial, off-the-shelf (COTS) 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 COTS program by receiving product improvements and enhancements through the evolution of the aircraft, without investing any government money into the research & development of those capabilities.
The UH-72B benefits from numerous product improvements developed during the lifecycle of the commercial aircraft that have increased the power, controls and safety of the Lakota.
A Fenestron shrouded tail rotor comes with a newly designed gearbox that reduces maintenance and enhances safety for ground operations. And a new bearingless, five-bladed rotor increases the aircraft’s load capacity while reducing expense and maintenance.
An enhanced Arriel 2E power plant and dual FADEC generates even more power, and a four-axis autopilot strengthens controls and allows for automated takeoffs. An auxiliary operator’s console allows central control of electro-optical sensors, spotlight and ground data link as part of the security and support mission equipment package.
Pilots benefit from the advanced Airbus Helionix avionics suite, which provides the most innovative and intuitive human-machine interface.
Like its predecessor, the UH-72B is built at an Airbus Helicopters Inc., production facility in Columbus, Mississippi, where the workforce is comprised of 40% veterans.
U.S. Army pilots benefit from the UH-72A’s VEMD (Vehicle and Engine Multifunction Display) and its night vision goggle (NVG) compatible glass cockpit, which synthesizes flight and vehicle information, increasing situational awareness and reducing crew workload.
The Lakota's redundant hydraulic, electrical, and engine control systems – combined with its crashworthy airframe and energy-attenuating pilot and passenger seats – add a high level of flight safety and survivability to the type’s exceptional flight characteristics. Power from the aircraft’s reliable Arriel turboshafts is delivered through a proven hingeless rotor system to the UH-72A’s advanced technology composite rotor blades. Coupled with advanced blade design, this decreases vibration and noise, while enhancing aerodynamic efficiency and mission performance.
The UH-72A's unobstructed main cabin is easily re-configurable to maximize mission flexibility. The helicopter's sliding side and rear clamshell doors optimize access and effective space utilization, offering rapid troop deployment and substantial mission growth potential. The Lakota can carry up to nine troops on crashworthy seats, while two stretchers can be installed for MEDEVAC missions.
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