Picture courtesy of Airbus Helicopters. Copyright Dianne Bond
US-based Airbus Helicopters Inc has delivered the first UH-72B, the latest variant of its Lakota helicopter, to the US Army National Guard from its production facility in Columbus, Mississippi which employs 250 people, 40% of which are US veterans. This delivery is the first of 18 UH-72B Lakota helicopters currently on order by the National Guard.
Colonel Calvin Lane, US Army project manager for Utility Helicopters, said: “The Lakota helicopter has been a staple of the US Army for more than 15 years, and we now look forward to benefitting from the latest technologies and performances that the latest 72B variant will provide, at no additional R&D cost to the Army.”
The UH-72B is the latest iteration of the proven 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.
Based on the widely successful H145, the UH-72B incorporates technologies that increase both safety and flight performance, including the five-bladed main rotor, the Fenestron shrouded tail rotor, Safran Arriel 2E engines, and the Airbus-designed Helionix avionics suite. The Helionix suite includes an advanced dual-duplex, four-axis autopilot to provide flight envelope and over-limit protection, automated takeoff, and fully-coupled approaches to hover.
Scott Tumpak, vice president responsible for Airbus military helicopter programs in the USA, said: “Our teams in Mississippi, many of whom are US Army and National Guard veterans themselves, are proud to build and deliver the first of this newest Lakota variant in support of the Army’s essential missions protecting and serving our country.
“We thank the Army for the trust they have placed in Airbus for more than 15 years and counting, as we continue to build on the Lakota legacy.”
With nearly 10 different configurations available, the Lakota ‘delivers proven performance, outstanding operational reliability, and unmatched versatility’ for a broad range of military scenarios.