Airbus Helicopters is set to deliver the US Army with Lakota UH-72B helicopters, the latest variant of the light utility helicopter.

Beginning with the latest orders placed this year, Airbus will deliver 17 UH-72B helicopters to the US Army next year.

This comes after the company has already delivered more than 460 UH-72A Lakota helicopters to the US Army, Navy and National Guard. The 463rd and the final UH-72A model is slated for delivery next month.

US Army Utility Helicopters project manager Col Calvin Lane said: “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.

“Procuring the UH-72B Lakota provides tremendous value with no research and development costs for the Army.”

Based on the H145 model, the UH-72B helicopters are equipped with several improvements including more powerful engines, enhanced controls, efficient Fenestron tail rotor and the Airbus Helionix avionics suite to improve flight performance.

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The Lakota helicopters are manufactured at Airbus’ production facility in Columbus, Mississippi.

Airbus US vice president for military helicopter programmes Scott Tumpak said: “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.

“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 new helicopters will be inducted into the US Army National Guard.