Saturday, 10 March 2018

US Army buys additional 35 UH-72A Lakota

US Army signs for additional Lakota helos

Gareth Jennings, London - IHS Jane's Defence Weekly

The US Army has signed for a further 35 Airbus Helicopters UH-72A Lakota training and support platforms to add to the more than 400 already delivered.

A USD273.3 million contract for the additional civil variant EC145 helicopters was announced by the Department of Defense (DoD) on 8 March. The helicopters are scheduled to be delivered by 8 March 2021.

The awarding of the contract comes two months after the army first disclosed that it was looking to add to its 412-helicopter programme-of-record for the Lakota. The service first procured the type in 2007 to free-up frontline types such as the Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk and to enable the phasing out of older types such as the Bell UH-1 ‘Huey’ and OH-58A Kiowa Warrior. The Lakota comes in seven configurations for missions including training, border security, search and rescue, medical evacuation, disaster response, VIP transport, and range support.

Derived from a European platform, the Lakota is license-built at Airbus Helicopters’ facility in Columbus, Mississippi. Since it was first launched in 2005, the UH-72A Lakota has been the rare exception to the rule that defence projects run over budget and years behind schedule.

With the programme running to budget and schedule, the Lakota has also proven to be a reliable and popular platform among those that fly and service it. A fatal crash involving a Puerto Rico National Guard helicopter in December 2010 is the only stain on an otherwise impeccable safety record, though the subsequent investigation ruled out mechanical failure as being the cause.

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