The US Congress has agreed to fund the military’s acquisition of additional 20 UH-72A Lakota light utility helicopters (LUH) from Airbus Group.
The purchase will be funded through an omnibus spending package, which is expected to be signed into a law by the US President.
Airbus Group chairman and CEO Sean O’Keefe said: ”We understand that in the current fiscal environment, our customer and the American taxpayer can’t afford to waste a penny.
”This is a time to support programmes that deliver what is promised and also have a vital role to play in our national security, programmes like the Lakota.”
A total of 31 Lakota helicopters were originally planned to be acquired by the US Army in 2014, but the budgetary constraints reduced the number to ten and also threatened to terminate the programme.
However, the final appropriations allocation doubles the number, enabling the US National Guard units to continue to provide support to citizens across the country.
Powered by two Turbomeca Arriel 1E2 turboshaft engines, the UH-72A Lakota is primarily used for search-and-rescue, medical evacuations, homeland security, VIP transport, disaster response and relief, as well as combat flight and pilot sustainment training missions.
A militarised version of EC-145 multirole helicopter, Lakota is manufactured at the company’s facility in Columbus, Mississippi, US, and can also be operated for general support and counter-narcotics operations.
Around 290 Lakotas, which are claimed to be the US military’s most cost-effective aircraft to buy, own and operate, have been delivered to date by Airbus to the US Army, National Guard and Navy.
Image: A US Army’s UH-72A Lakota light utility helicopter displayed during a ceremony in Columbus, Mississippi, US. Photo: courtesy of Dianne Bond.