The US Army’s Colorado National Guard has received the first UH-72B Lakota helicopters at its Army Aviation Support Facility.
Delivery of the two of 18 aircraft follows the US Department of Defense’s (DoD) procurement of the latest model, specifically for the US Army National Guard.
As many as nine US states will receive two UH-72B copters, following the earlier deployment of UH-72A helicopters, domestic operations support mission sets, and environmental factors.
The latest variant in the Lakota light utility helicopter series, UH-72B, is equipped with Airbus’ Helionix suite of avionics. It provides enhanced mission flexibility and operational safety.
Colorado Hoist Rescue Team program manager, US Army chief warrant officer 3 and instructor pilot Clayton Horney said: “The UH-72B (Airbus H-145 D3) has 25% more power than the UH-72A, along with a redesigned five-bladed rotor system, fenestron (enclosed) tail rotor, and four-axis autopilot that allows for hands-off hovering.”
The UH-72B model is closer in power margins to Colorado’s UH-60 fleet.
The new Lakotas will also support the Colorado Hoist Rescue Team in conducting search and rescue (SAR) operations at higher elevations.
Colorado Army National Guard state army aviation officer William Gentle said: “The Colorado National Guard will utilise the new platform primarily for counter-drug and search and rescue in Colorado.
“The increased aircraft capabilities over the UH-72A in support of domestic operations will help lessen the load on our UH-60 fleet.”
UH-72B’s lower cost of operation and higher power margins will also help personnel save on flying hours, added Gentle.
In May this year, the US Army awarded a follow-on contractor logistics support (CLS) contract to Airbus to support its UH-72A and UH-72B Lakota fleet.