Production of the US Army’s Airbus UH-72A Lakota fleet of light utility helicopters – based on the civil EC145 – will switch to the newer UH-72B model from 2021.
The US Army first ordered the UH-72A in 2006 and currently operates 463 Lakotas in Army and National Guard units in a variety of light transport roles, all of which have been built in the US state of Mississippi.
The first batch of 17 UH-72Bs on order will incorporate the fenestron tail rotor, Helionix avionics, and more powerful engines of the substantially updated commercial H145.
“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,” US Army Project Manager for Utility Helicopters, COL Calvin Lane said in a statement. “Procuring the UH-72B Lakota provides tremendous value with no research and development costs for the Army.”
The UH-72B incorporates many of the systems that are found on the missionised H145M which Airbus has offered for the Australian Army’s Project LAND 2097 Phase 4 light special operations rotary wing (SORW) requirement, and as a complement to its upgraded Tiger solution for the Project LAND 4503 armed reconnaissance helicopter replacement program.