UH-72A Lakota Light Utility Helicopter

EADS North America has been awarded a $212.7m contract by the US Army for the delivery of 39 UH-72A Lakota light utility helicopters (LUH) as part of its total acquisition plan.

Under the contract, 32 of the additional Lakota LUH helicopters will be built in the US Army’s Security and Support (S&S) Battalion configuration equipped with the mission equipment package (MEP). The S&S Battalion Lakota will allow Army National Guard units to continuously support federal law enforcement and first responders during disasters or emergency situations.

The MEP includes a centreline electro-optical infrared sensor, an onboard computer, enhanced tactical communications radios, touchscreen monitors, analogue/digital video downlink, an onboard digital video recorder and GPS, and a video management system. The package improves mission performance by providing still imagery and real-time streaming video to ground stations or command centres, a street address capability and a 30-million-candle power search light.

The helicopters are used to perform medical evacuations, search and rescue operations, homeland security, VIP transport, disaster response and relief, general aviation support, combat flight training and pilot sustainment training. The aircraft will replace the ageing OH-58 and UH-1 rotary-wing aircraft, while allowing UH-60 Black Hawks to participate in combat missions.

The US Army has ordered 232 UH-72As out of 345 helicopters under a Defence Acquisition Category (ACAT) I programme that will run through 2015. EADS has already delivered 198 Lakotas to the US Army, along with five H-72A versions to the US Navy for test pilot training purposes.

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Work on the helicopter will be carried out at the company’s Eurocopter facility in Columbus, Mississippi, US, while integration and testing of the S&S Battalion MEP will be performed at Eurocopter’s facility in Texas, US.

Image: The UH-72A Lakota allows Army National Guard units to continuously support federal law enforcement and first responders during emergency situations.