UH-72A Lakota Light Utility Helicopter, USA

The UH-72A Lakota is a light utility helicopter specifically designed to meet the requirements of 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.

Image @helis.com

Airbus Group handed over 330 UH-72A Lakota helicopters to the US Army, US Navy and National Guard as of March 2015. The US Department of Defence placed orders for 411 Lakotas to date.

UH-72A Lakota helicopter suppliers and design

EADS North America selected companies, including LCX Systems, Sarasota, Fla; Sierra Nevada Corporation, Sparks, Nev; Ranger Rotorcraft Group, Fort Worth, Texas; MARK IV Luminator, Plano, Texas; and L-3 Communications, New York, for the security and support mission equipment package. The package includes electro-optical infrared sensor, a data communications suite, moving map display, cabin and cockpit screens, a digital video recorder and a searchlight.

Image @airbushelicoptersinc.com

Sikorsky has been contracted to supply the UH-72A logistic support, including maintenance contract management, supply chain management, contractor field teams, spare part and tool management, facilities management and field and depot-level maintenance.

The UH-72A light utility helicopter is a military version of the Eurocopter EC145. During the competitive bid 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.

Close up of the UH-72A helicopter rotary systems.  The UH-72A has a hingeless rotor system with composite 11m main rotor blades  – Image  @army-technology.com

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.

Image @helis.com

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.

Image @intelligent-aerospace.com

Cockpit and avionics systems on the light utility helicopter

The cockpit and cabin 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.

Image @images.flugrevue.de


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.

The 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).

Image @aerospace-technology.com

Thales centralised vehicle and engine management display (VEMD)

Many Eurocopter models are equipped with a Vehicle Engine Multifunction Display or also known as the VEMD. This parameter display LCD unit provides a method of displaying engine and airframe information to the pilot. It has a proven track record and since the unit is very similar in various Eurocopter models it provides for transference when transitioning between the airframes. Source eurosafety.us

The cockpit displays simplify the presentation of flight and vehicle information, increasing the crew’s situational awareness and reducing the pilot’s workload.

Closeup of main display – Image @i.ytimg.com

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.

The UH-72A’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.

Image @uh-72a.com

The avionics cooling system, supplied by Keith Products of Addison, Texas, ensures proper operating temperatures for the helicopter’s navigation, communications and mission equipment.

MX™-15 Electro-Optical / Infrared (EO/IR) Imaging Turrets



Ideal for: ISR – Medium-Altitude Covert Intelligence, Surveillance & Reconnaissance, SAR missions
Installations: Fixed-wing, Rotary-wing, UAV, Aerostat

Features & Benefits

Weight-sensitive Solution

  • No external electronics unit ““ direct support of peripherals reduces aircraft wiring
  • Installed weight reduced by up to 50 lb/22 kg

Multi-Sensor Imaging/Lasing Payload Options:

  • Currently supports up to 6 sensors simultaneously
  • Superior HD imaging resolution from Electro-Optical (EO) and Infrared (IR) cameras
  • 20% improvement in range performance

Just launched: Easy-to-use state-of-the-art technologies that improve operator effectiveness

  • Color low-light, wide-angle zoom EO imager ““ Complementing the system’s existing dual-channel spotter, this technology enhances its imaging capability under a wide range of illumination conditions, including dusk and poor weather conditions
  • Zoom spotter ““ Zoom optics allow the operator to achieve the desired balance of magnification and field of view between moderately wide and ultra-narrow
  • Short wave IR (SWIR) imager ““ Useful for day and night imaging missions, the high resolution SWIR imager offers outstanding range performance at the limits of atmospheric visibility. In addition, it offers improved imaging performance under suboptimal atmospheric conditions, such as atmospheric haze and fog

Image Blending:

  • Blends EO and IR imagery
  • Spectrally-rich image yields detail that would be invisible in individual senor images

Enhanced Local Area Processing (ELAP):

  • Real-time image enhancement for EO day, EO night & IR

IR Image Processor (Local Area Processing):

  • Greatly enhances image detail and scene contract
    • Increases dynamic range, reduces noise, performs electronic zoom

High-Performance IMU & MX-GEO Software Suite:

  • IMU & MX-GEO work to create accurate target location
  • MX-GEO automatically aligns to the aircraft
  • Robust automatic image focus

Uncompromised Stabilization:

  • 4-axis gimbal with internal IMU
  • All payloads are fully-stabilized

MX-Series Commonality:

  • Common operator interfaces and Hand Controller Units (HCUs):
    • Ease and familiarity of use
    • Simplified interchangeability
    • Efficiencies in product support and technology enhancements

Source wescam.com

Navigation, communications and cabin of UH-72A

The UH-72A 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.

Raytheon AN/ARC-231 aircraft voice and data radio


The AN/ARC-231 Skyfire airborne software-defined radio from the Raytheon Co. Integrated Defense systems segment in Marlborough, Mass., is a line-of-sight VHF and UHF radio, as well as a satellite communications (SATCOM) terminal.

The Raytheon Skyfire aircraft radio is on military helicopters ranging from the MH-60L/M and UH-60L/M Black Hawks, MH-47E/G and CH-47G Chinooks, UH-1N Hueys, A2C2S Black Hawks, and AH-64 Apaches, as well as the UH-72A Lakotas. The radio also is on several military fixed-wing aircraft.

The ARC-231 operates on frequencies from 30 to 512 MHz, with frequency agile modes electronic counter-countermeasures (ECCM), UHF SATCOM, demand assigned multiple access (DAMA), integrated waveform (IW), and air traffic control (ATC).

Data communications that sends and receives text, still images, and video, uses an internal data controller, and sends data as fast as 56, 64, and 76.8 kilobits per second. Source militaryaerospace.com

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.

RT-5000 wideband transceiver


P-2000 tactical communications transceivers

P-2000 tactical communications transceivers @cobham.com
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.

Mission systems

The modular design of the 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 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.

Image @deagel.com

Turbomeca Arriel 1E2 tuboshaft engines and flight training

The helicopter is powered by two Turbomeca Arriel 1E2 tuboshaft 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.

2 x Turbomeca Arriel 1E2 tuboshaft engines

m020110308000032 × Turbomeca Arriel 1E2, each with 550 kW

CAE USA in Tampa, Florida, was contracted to design and manufacture UH-72A cockpit procedural trainers for the United States Army which is used for procedural, familiarisation, and transition training as the army begins taking delivery of the UH-72A helicopters.

3D Perception contracted by CAE to deliver 3rd round of Visual Display Systems for UH-72A Lakota Simulators

Airbus Group is also acquiring the UH-72A cockpit procedural trainer to support pilot transition training, to be installed at the Airbus Helicopters training centre in Grand Prairie, Texas.

UH-72A Lakota helicopter orders and deliveries

A $43.1m contract was awarded to EADS North America in June 2006 for an initial order of eight helicopters. The army took delivery of the first UH-72A Lakota in December 2006. The first eight helicopters were delivered by July 2007. An additional order for 34 helicopters worth $170m was placed in October 2006 for delivery by late 2008.

Image @globalsecurity.org

The Lakota entered service in June 2007. Full-rate production was authorised in August 2007. The US Army’s requirement is for a total of 322 helicopters with a potential value of $2bn.

In October 2008, the US Navy placed an order for five Lakotas for training at the Naval Test Pilot School, Patuxent River, Maryland.

H-72 Lakotas at the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School (USNTPS) – Image@helihub.com

In December 2008, the US Army ordered a further 39 Lakotas, extending production to the end of 2010. Five more were ordered in January 2009, bringing the total confirmed order for the army to 128. The 50th and 51st UH-72s were delivered in December 2008.

UH-72A Lakota Light Utility Helicopters are deployed to the U.S. Army’s missile test site on Kwajalein Atoll – Image @defenceindustrydaily.com

The US Army received two new UH-72A helicopters in January 2009 to replace its 38-year-old UH-1H Iroquois helicopters. The South Dakota Army National Guard received the first of six UH-72A helicopters in May 2011. The 200th Lakota was delivered to the US Army in March 2012.

In January 2012, EADS North America received a $212.7m contract from the US Army to deliver 39 UH-72A Lakota helicopters.

In November 2012, EADS North America received a $181.8m contract option from the US Army to deliver 34 UH-72A Lakota helicopters, bringing the total orders to 312.

Image @airbushelicoptersinc.com

Utah Army National Guard received two new Lakotas in September 2013.

The US Army placed a $220.5m modification contract with Airbus Helicopters for the delivery of 41 UH-72A Lakota helicopters, in February 2014.

Airbus delivered the first production-line configured UH-72A training helicopter to the US Army in March 2015.

RTA Lakota Training DayRoyal Thai Army pilots training in USA – Image @ainonline.com


UH-145 / UH-72

uh-72a 72A UH-Lakota of the US Army

Military users 

Germany Germany
Air Force: 15 M145M LUH (planned from mid-2017)
Thailand Thailand
Royal Thai Army: 9 UH-72A (appointed 2015) 
Royal Thai Army: 6 M145M VIP
Royal Thai Navy: 5 M145M (appointed 2014)
10345849_722372331228065_603181982162223764_n12107760_722372244561407_3281835282524564035_nRoyal Thai Army UH-72A – credit:Peeratchai Frem

See details of H145M: HERE


Characteristic Data
Dimensions LOA 12,98 m
Hull length 10.16 m
Rotor diameter 11,00 m
Tail Rotor Diameter 1.96 m
Height 3.42 m
Width 3.12 m (Hull: 1,85 m)
Cabin (L × W × H) 3.12 × 1.70 × 1.27 m
Driving and services Engines 2 × Turbomeca Arriel 1E2, each with 550 kW
Top speed 268 km / h
Cruising speed ~ 240 km / h
Max. Range 685 km without replacement
Hover 3445/2745 m (with / without ground effect)
Service ceiling 5240 m
Rate of climb 8.1 m / s
Weights Max. Takeoff weight 3585 kg
Empty weight ~ 1800 kg
Payload 6 people, or up to 1793 kg (including pilot 80kg of fuel)or max. 1500 kg external load (to winch 270 kg)
Arming 4 missiles (military version)

Source: army-technology.com, wiki

Update Jan 15, 2017


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