The US Army National Guard has received the first UH-72B helicopter, the latest variant of the Lakota family of aircraft, from Airbus.

The light utility helicopter was delivered by Airbus Helicopters from its production facility in Columbus, Mississippi.

Based on the proven H145 model, the UH-72B incorporates several improvements for better safety and flight performance.

It features a five-bladed main rotor, the Fenestron shrouded tail rotor, Safran Arriel 2E engines and the Airbus-designed Helionix avionics suite.

The National Guard will procure a total of 18 UH-72B Lakota helicopters to support critical missions.

US Army Utility Helicopters project manager colonel Calvin Lane said: “With the addition of the UH-72B Lakota to our fleet, the US Army increases our capability to save lives, protect communities, and provide disaster relief when it’s needed most.

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“The Lakota helicopter has been a staple of the army for more than 15 years now, and we look forward to benefitting from the latest technologies and performances that the newest 72B variant will provide, at no additional research and development costs for the army.”

Airbus US military helicopter programmes vice-president Scott Tumpak 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.”

Notably, Lakota helicopters are available in ten different configurations. The UH-72 Lakota can be used in a range of operations, including reconnaissance, border security, medical evacuation and disaster response missions among others.