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UH-72 Lakota

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UH-72A Lakota
The Army's new UH-72A Lakota will primarily be used by the National Guard to perform homeland security missions.
Type Light utility helicopter
Manufacturer Eurocopter North America
Introduced 2007
Status Currently in production
Primary user United States Army
Developed from Eurocopter EC 145

The UH-72A Lakota is a United States Army light utility helicopter that entered service in 2006, built by the American Eurocopter division of EADS North America.

It is a military version of the Eurocopter EC 145 modified to the Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) requirements. In June 2006, the US Army selected it as the winner of its LUH program with a 300+ aircraft fleet planned.



The US Army's LHX program began in the early 1980s, proposing two airframes with a high percentage of commonality of dynamic components. One was a light utility airframe for assault and tactical movement of troops and supplies, the other was a light attack/reconnaissance airframe to complement the growing development of the AH-64 Apache. As the program was developed, the light utility airframe concept was dropped and focus was placed on the light attack reconnaissance airframe which eventually became the RAH-66 Comanche.

In 2004, the Department of Defense and the US Army made the decision to terminate the RAH-66 program. As part of the termination, the Army was allowed to keep the future years funding programmed for the Comanche. To replace the capability that the Comanche was supposed to offer, the Army planned several programs, including three new aircraft. The Army Staff decided that these three aircraft, the Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter (ARH), the Light Utility Helicopter (LUH), and the Future Cargo Aircraft (FCA) (which was later renamed Joint Cargo Aircraft, or JCA), were to be existing, in-production commercial aircraft modified for Army service. Other programs that arose out of the Comanche termination were the UH-60M and the CH-47F upgrade programs.

LUH Program and "UH-145"

File:EC 135.jpg
A Eurocopter EC 145 (German ADAC air rescue helicopter), a version of which was selected as the LUH

The LUH program was initiated in early 2004, with a requirement for 322 helicopters to conduct Homeland Security, administrative, logistic, Medical Evacuation (MEDEVAC) and support of the Army Test and Training Centers missions. The LUH contract was released in late July of 2005. At least five proposals were received. The competitors included the Bell 210 and Bell 412, MD Helicopters MD Explorer, AgustaWestland AW139. EADS marketed a version of the Eurocopter EC 145 (itself based on late model MBB/Kawasaki BK 117) as the "UH-145" for the program.[1]

On 30 June 2006, the Army announced that the EADS entry had won the competition. If all 322 aircraft are procured the contract will be worth over $3 billion. In August, the EADS UH-145 submission was officially designated the UH-72A by the Department of Defense. It was then given the additional name Lakota later. The LUH marked EADS first major military contract in the North American market, and is among their larger orders overall.

The intent is to buy a total of 322 aircraft, with a possible surplus order of another 20. The program has a potential value of over US$3 billion.

The Lakota received Full Rate Production approval on August 23, 2007. This will allow the Army to buy the full quantity of aircraft, currently planned at 322.[2]


The UH-72A is designed to take on a range of missions, from general support and medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) to personnel recovery and counter-narcotics operations. They are planned to replace the UH-1 and OH-58A/C, which are older light utility helicopters, and supplant other types in domestic use.

Operational history

File:UH-72 Lakota2.jpg
The UH-72A Lakota is an unarmed helicopter that performs medical and casualty evacuations, provides disaster relief, aids in homeland defense and also works to counter drugs and narcotics.

The first aircraft was delivered on December 11, 2006 in Columbus, Mississippi.[3] The second UH-72A was delivered by the end of 2006. All aircraft are expected to be delivered by June 30, 2016.

On 12 December 2006, General Richard A. Cody, Vice Chief of Staff of the Army, and Joe Red Cloud, a chief of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, Lakota Nation, accepted the first UH-72A. Initial aircraft will be sent to the National Training Center, Fort Irwin, Calif. for medical evacuation missions in January 2007. The UH-72A Lakotas will replace UH-60 Black Hawks, which will be transferred to the National Guard for operational missions.[4]

On 20 June 2007 the National Training Center Aeromedical Aviation Detachment received its sixth UH-72A, and became the first operational unit to field the Lakota. This unit possesses the first six UH-72As delivered from Eurocopter.[5] In July 2007 the second unit was fielded. This was the Training and Doctrine (TRADOC) Flight Detachment at Fort Eustis.

The UH-72A was fielded to the Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC) located at Fort Polk, Louisiana on September 7, 2007. Fort Polk is currently operating 10 LUHs and will stand up the first LUH battalion in FY09 with 26 aircraft.

On 9 November 2007, a report obtained by the AP revealed overheating issues experienced by US Army UH-72A during flight testing in Southern California. According to the report, during testing operations in 80 degree weather, the cockpit of the aircraft reached temperatures of 104.9F. The safe operating limit for the UH-72 is 104 degrees, prompting the Army to consider adding air conditioning units to prevent avionics and systems failures during operation.[6] Air conditioning is standard in commercial versions of the aircraft, which have not had overheating problems. But the military usually avoids air conditioning in military aircraft to reduce weight and increase performance.



Specifications (UH-72A)

General characteristics

  • Crew: 2 pilots
  • Capacity: 8 troops or 2 stretchers and medical crew
  • Length: 42 ft 8 in (13.03 m)
  • Rotor diameter: 36 ft 1 in (11.00 m)
  • Height: 11 ft 4 in (3.45 m)
  • Disc area: 1023 sq ft (94.98 m2)
  • Empty weight: 3,950 lb (1,792 kg)
  • Useful load: 3,953 lb (1,793 kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: 7,903 lb (3,585 kg)
  • Powerplant:Turbomeca Arriel IE2 turboshafts, 738 shp (551 kW) each


See also

Related development

Comparable aircraft

Related lists

See also


External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to:

Template:Eurocopter Template:USAF helicopters

de:BK 117 fr:MBB-Kawasaki BK 117

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.
It uses material from the Wikipedia article "UH-72 Lakota".