Warplanes: First UH-72A Unit


June 16, 2007: The U.S. Army equipped its first unit with its latest helicopter, the UH-72A ("Lakota"). The Air Ambulance Detachment at the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, California received six of the new helicopters. The UH-72A will replace the UH-60 for a lot of jobs that don't require a helicopter quite that large (about a third larger). Medical evacuation is one such job.

The army is buying 332 UH-72A (formerly called the UH-145) helicopters, for about nine million dollars each, from European firm EADS. The UH-72A is a militarized version of the EC145, a helicopter very popular with law enforcement agencies, including the FBI. The UH-72A purchase is a side effect of the cancellation of the Comanche helicopter, which was perceived as too expensive and complex for army needs. The UH-72A will mainly replace the aging UH-1 helicopters, which are being retired use by the American military. The UH-72A has about the same capacity as the UH-1, despite its smaller size. The 3.6 ton UH-72A has a top speed of 260 kilometers an hour and a max range of 660 kilometers. Average endurance per sortie is about two hours. The helicopter has a crew of two, and can carry up to eight passengers, or about three-quarters of a ton of cargo or weapons. The EC145 was introduced five years ago, and has been very popular with its users. About fifty UH-72As will be delivered in the next two years.


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