The U.S. military’s UH-72 Lakota helicopter fleet has racked up more than 1 million flight hours, according to Airbus.
The million-hour milestone has been accrued by U.S. Army, Navy, and National Guard pilots since 2006, when the Army selected the UH-72A as its new light utility helicopter. Since that time, Airbus has delivered 463 of the Lakota UH-72As to the Army, as well as more than a dozen of the updated UH-72B variant that entered the fleet earlier this year.
About the Aircraft
The commercial twin-engine, single-main-rotor light utility helicopter is flown in non-combat, non-hostile environments, such as during search and rescue missions, transport, and during response to disasters such as wildfires and floods. In addition to two pilots, it can seat up to six passengers.
The helicopter is also flown by the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School, and is used in Army combat training.
“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,” Col. Calvin Lane, U.S. army project manager for Utility Helicopters, said last year when the order of the new UH-72B variant was announced.
“Procuring the UH-72B Lakota provides tremendous value with no research and development costs for the Army.”
By the end of this month, the UH-72 Lakota will be operational in 45 states and territories, Airbus said.
“Earlier this year, the Army introduced the first UH-72B Lakota to its National Guard fleet, the first delivery of an order placed in 2020 for 18 of the newest Lakota variant,” Airbus said Monday. “The UH-72B is based on the widely successful H145, which incorporates various product enhancements that have been developed during the lifecycle of the commercial aircraft.”
Those enhancements include:
- A more efficient and quieter tail rotor
- More powerful engines
- Enhanced controls and a new avionics system
The Lakota UH-72 is built in a Columbus, Mississippi, production facility, where about 40% of the workers are military veterans, according to the manufacturer.
“Many of the men and women who build the Lakota in Mississippi are U.S. military veterans themselves, and they take a lot of pride in supporting the aviators who serve our nation,” Scott Tumpak, who is responsible for Airbus military helicopter programs in the U.S., said in a statement.
“The million-hour milestone is a testament to the commitment of that workforce who has supported unprecedented on-time deliveries and to the reliability and versatility of the aircraft they build.”