The US Army is pushing on with its purchase of Airbus Helicopters UH-72A Lakotas.
The armed forces signed another contract, now for 41 additional light utility helicopters of the type, with planned delivery to be finished in July 2017. Airbus Helicopters will get 220.5 million USD for the new deal that brings the total number of ordered UH-72As to more than 400; more than 330 have been delivered so far.
The recently singed agreement is probably not the last, as the US Army is expected to order more Lakotas in the next two to three years.
The United States has approved the request by the Government of Thailand for another 9 EADS North America/Airbus Helicopters 9 UH-72A Lakota choppers, for an estimated costs of US$ 89 million. The US Congress has been notified of the officially still “proposed” deal on 29 September 2014.
“These Lakotas will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States, by helping to improve the security of a major non-NATO ally”, according to a press release.
The US Army received its 300th UH-72A Lakota light utility helicopter on 15 May 2014.
The Lakota is manufactured in the USA, by Airbus Helicopters’ facility in Columbus, Mississippi. Since the UH-72A contract was competitively awarded in 2006, the company has delivered the Lakota in seven different configurations for missions including training, border security, search and rescue, medical evacuation, disaster response, VIP transport and range support. Five aircraft are also in service with the US Naval Test Pilot School, which trains Navy, Marine Corps and Army test pilots.
Army officials have recently indicated plans to modernize the service’s rotorcraft training fleet with the UH-72A. The UH-72A has a baseline unit cost of just US$ 5.5 million. The chopper fleet recently passed the 200,000 flight hour milestone, and it maintains greater than 90 percent availability with full contractor logistics support.
The 300th Army Lakota will serve with the Missouri National Guard. The aircraft was delivered in the Security and Support (S&S) Battalion configuration, which expands the UH-72A’s capabilities for missions ranging from disaster response to border security operations. The S&S configuration includes an electro-optical and infrared sensor, searchlight, digital video recorder, secure data downlink and moving map.
The Royal Thai Army will get six Airbus Helicopter UH-72A Lakotas, through a US foreign sales program. That means the light utility helicopters will be build in Columbus, Mississippi, USA.
The deal was announced on 28 March 2014 and is worth US$ 34 million. The Royal Thai Army Lakotas will get special mission equipment and a Raytheon radio system. The Thai Lakotas will start to arrive in 2015.
The UH-72A is the more militarized version of the originally by Eurocopter launched EC145, the chopper that has recently been selected by the Bolivian Air Force as well. Airbus Helicopters delivered 290 UH-72As so far to the US Army, the National Guard and the US Navy, for a unit price of 5.5 million a piece. In January 2014 US Congress approved the procurement of yet another 20 Lakotas for the US armed forces. The US Army took delivery of the first US made UH-72A Lakota on 11 December 2006.
Source: Airbus Helicopters
Footage of the UH-72 in US Army National Guard service