Airbus Helicopters announced that it received a $273 million contract from the US Army to deliver 35 more UH-72A Lakotas.
The helicopters will be used as training aircraft, and will be split between the initial entry rotary wing mission at Fort Rucker, Alabama, which will receive 17 aircraft, and the observer and controller mission at the Army’s combat training centres, which will receive 18 aircraft.
The Lakota is built by Airbus at its Columbus, Mississippi facility. It is a twin-engine light utility helicopter, which is the army’s version of the civilian EC145.
The Lakota was initially acquired in 2007 by the US Army to replace the Bell UH-1 Iroquois for peacetime support missions. In 2014, the Army decided to buy 155 more UH-72As to replace the TH-67 Creek trainer and to supplement its light utility helicopter fleet.
Airbus says the aircraft is capable of a wide range of military operations including border patrol, medical aero-evacuation, troop and VIP transport, light cargo and Homeland Security operations.
More than 412 Lakotas have been delivered to the US military since 2005, according to Airbus. Almost all of the aircraft were received by the Army, though the Navy has a handful as well.
The order of 35 additional helicopters breathes new life into Airbus’ manufacturing plant in Columbus, which anticipated rolling the last of the UH-72As off the production line on 28 February and didn’t have any more work coming.