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Airbus Helicopters Pushes Ahead With Lakota Trainer Deliveries


Airbus Helicopters’ U.S. factory in Columbus, Mississippi, is manufacturing 35 UH-72A Lakotas (the military version of Airbus Helicopter’s H145) for deployment at the U.S. Army’s helicopter training centers. They are being built under a $273 million U.S. Army contract signed with Airbus in March 2018. Seventeen of the UH-72As will be sent to Fort Rucker, Alabama, for training entry-level helicopter pilots. Eighteen more will be deployed to the Army’s Combat Training Centers for training observers/controllers.


This purchase comes after the U.S. Army had already bought 155 UH-72As to replace its 181 TH-67 Creek training helicopters, which are based on the Bell 206B-3. (At present, both helicopters are being used as trainers.) The Army also has more than 412 UH-72As in its fleet serving as light utility helicopters.


58 Sept/Oct 2018


“Selecting the Lakota allows Army pilots to train in a twin-engine, glass cockpit environment that is similar to the Apache and the Black Hawk, and identical to the Army’s light utility helicopters,” said Scott Tumpak, Airbus Helicopters’ vice president of government programs. The Lakotas are also equipped to support night vision goggles and other modern military technologies.


In contrast, the TH-67s are single-engine models that use steam gauges and other analog control interfaces. Training on this 20th century platform, rather than the Lakota’s 21st century glass cockpit, “adds an extra hurdle for student pilots to clear as they move from training to active service and deployment,” Tumpak said.


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