The UH-72A Lakota is a light utility helicopter specifically designed to meet the requirements of the US Army. UH-72A Lakota helicopters were acquired to replace the UH-1H Iroquois and OH-58 A/C Kiowa helicopters.
Based on the EC 145 multirole helicopter, the UH-72A serves the Army principally for logistics and support missions within the US. It is also used by the Army National Guard for homeland security and disaster-response missions and medical evacuations.
The prime contractor for the UH-72A helicopter is EADS North America (now Airbus Group). Airbus Helicopters, a subsidiary of Airbus Group, is involved in managing production, assembly, delivery and training the army.
Airbus handed over 440 UH-72A Lakota light utility helicopters to the US Army, US Navy and National Guard as of August 2019. The US Department of Defence (DoD) placed orders for more than 478 Lakotas to date.
UH-72A Lakota light utility helicopter design
The UH-72A Lakota light utility helicopter is a military version of the Eurocopter EC145. During the competitive bidding phase, EADS North America used the UH-145 designation for its light utility helicopter entry. The helicopters are being manufactured by Airbus Helicopters at the company’s production centre in Columbus, Mississippi.
The main and tail rotors are high set to allow fast and safe loading and unloading through the main doors and rear-fuselage clamshell doors, even while the rotors are turning. The helicopter has a hingeless rotor system with composite main rotor blades which are 11m in diameter. The rotor configuration provides reduced noise and vibration characteristics. The high-set, twin-blade tail rotor has a diameter of 1.95m.
Safety features include a high level of redundancy with a twin-engine design, and redundant hydraulic, electrical and engine control systems. The crashworthy airframe and seats also contribute to the UH-72A’s operational safety and survivability.
Cockpit and avionics systems
The cockpit and cabin of the UH-72A Lakota light utility helicopter are fitted with a large multipiece wrap-around front windscreen, multiple side-fuselage windows on the cockpit and passenger doors, and side windows for the main cabin. The windows and windscreen, supplied by Nordam Group in Tulsa, Oklahoma, provide good visibility for the helicopter’s crew and passengers.
The cockpit accommodates a crew of two and is fitted with two Simula energy-absorbing cockpit seats supplied by BAE Systems Mobility and Protection Systems (formerly Armor Holdings Aerospace and Defense Group) in Phoenix, Arizona. The cockpit seats have ergonomic cushions, a four-point restraint system with an inertia reel and are qualified to FAA crashworthiness standards.
UH-72A is fitted with a night-vision goggle-compatible glass cockpit with active matrix liquid crystal displays and a Meghas avionics suite supplied by Thales US. The cockpit displays include the Thales centralised vehicle and engine management display (VEMD).
The cockpit displays simplify the presentation of flight and vehicle information, increasing the crew’s situational awareness and reducing the pilot’s workload.
Production of the Meghas avionics suite is being transferred from Europe to a new Thales production facility in Irvine, California.
The helicopter’s automatic flight control system is supplied by Sagem Avionics, Inc. and is partially produced at the company’s Grand Prairie, Texas, facility.
UH-72A Lakota light utility helicopter’s automatic flight control system includes two attitude and heading reference systems (AHRS), advanced power management (APM) computers, smart electro-mechanical actuators, TRIM actuators and fibre-optic gyroscopes.
The avionics cooling system, supplied by Keith Products of Addison, Texas, ensures proper operating temperatures for the helicopter’s navigation, communications and mission equipment.
Navigation, communications and cabin of UH-72A
UH-72A Lakota light utility helicopter’s navigation and communications systems are supplied by Wulfsberg Electronics based in Prescott, Arizona. The navigation and air traffic control communications include dual VHF communications transceivers, dual VHF navigation receivers with VOR, ILS and marker beacon, and a DME transceiver.
The UH-72A’s tactical communications system includes an RT-5000 wideband transceiver operating at 29MHz to 960MHz, and dual P-2000 tactical communications transceivers. Wulfsberg Electronics also supplies navigation and communications systems for EC145 helicopters used in civilian and special mission roles.
The cabin accommodates eight troops or passengers. The cabin is fitted with BAE System’s Simula passenger seats which are of fold-up design and meet FAA crashworthiness standards. The cockpit and passenger seats are of high strength, lightweight composites construction and include aramid and graphite materials.
The cockpit and cabin are fitted with a heating and ventilating system supplied by Keith Products. The Keith Products heating, ventilation and cooling systems are fitted as standard equipment for all civilian EC145 versions of the Lakota UH-72A.
The modular design of the UH-72A Lakota light utility helicopter allows the fast and efficient installation of a range of mission modules.
For ambulance and medical evacuation missions, the cabin can accommodate two stretchers, plus one crew chief (who is qualified to operate the hoist and other aircraft equipment) and one medical attendant. The UH-72A’s Nato standard stretchers and stretcher retainer mounts are supplied by Aerolite of Washington.
The UH-72A Lakota light utility helicopter has an externally mounted rescue electric hoist, series type 44301 from Goodrich Corporation. The hoist is mounted on a boom and support assembly that allows it to be positioned in an arc of up to 63° from the aircraft fuselage centreline for maximum operational flexibility. The hoist is stowed in line with the fuselage during flight.
Turbomeca Arriel 1E2 turboshaft engines and flight training
The helicopter is powered by two Turbomeca Arriel 1E2 turboshaft engines, each providing 550kW of take-off power and 516kW continuous power.
The engines are rated to provide a maximum power of 574kW for two and a half minutes and 404kW continuously in one-engine-inoperable-mode fight.
CAE USA in Tampa, Florida, was contracted to design and manufacture UH-72A cockpit procedural trainers for the US Army, used for procedural, familiarisation, and transition training as the army begins taking delivery of the UH-72A helicopters.
Airbus Group also acquired the UH-72A cockpit procedural trainer to support pilot transition training at the Airbus Helicopters training centre in Grand Prairie, Texas.
- UH-72A Lakota: An unarmed utility military version of the EC 145.
- UH-72B Lakota: Upgrade of the UH-72A; this configuration is based on the upgraded civilian Eurocopter EC145T2. The model has a Fenestron tail rotor, more powerful engines, enhanced controls, and the Airbus Helionix avionics suite. Will enter service with the ARNG in 2021.
- AAS-72X: A proposed armed version of the UH-72 for the US Army’s Armed Aerial Scout OH-58D replacement program offered by EADS and Lockheed Martin.
- AAS-72X+: An armed military version of the Eurocopter EC145T2 also proposed for the Armed Aerial Scout program. It was equipped with more powerful engines with an extra 200 shaft horsepower each, a fenestron shrouded tail rotor, and a fully digital glass cockpit.
|Crew||1 – 2|
|Capacity||9 troops or 2 stretchers and medical crew / 3,953 lb (1,793 kg) payload|
|Length (rotors running)
||42 ft 9 in (13.03 m)|
|Height||11 ft 4 in (3.45 m)|
|Main rotor diameter||36 ft 1 in (11 m)|
|Empty weight||3,951 lb (1,792 kg)|
|Max take off weight||7,904 lb (3,585 kg)|
|Maximum speed (Vne)
||153 mph (246 km/h, 133 kn)|
|Cruising speed at sea level
||90 mph (145 km/h, 78 kn)|
|Ascent speed at sea level
||1,600 ft/min (8.13 m/s)|
|Ceiling in service
||13,182 ft (4,018 m)|
|Passable distance at sea level with standard reserve
||426 mi (685 km, 370 nmi)|
|Powerplant||2 × Turbomeca Arriel 1E2 turboshaft engine, 738 shp (550 kW) each|
- Royal Thai Army
- United States Army – 250 UH-72A; 350 planed.