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The UH-72A Lakota, a militarized version of the EC145 twin-engine helicopter, entered U.S. Army service in December 2006 as a state-of-the-art jack-of-many-trades, with more tech crammed into its cockpit out of the box than any Army helicopter ever. Its manufacturer, Airbus Helicopters, packed it with industry-leading optics that are critical for Guard operations like counterdrug, border patrol, and search and rescue. It’s also the Army’s first launch-model aircraft (the first model released) to include a complete hands-off autopilot feature.
Although the Lakota is limited to stateside deployment (the Army elected not to include up-armored features), it performs a huge range of domestic missions, including firefighting, personnel transport, medevac and more. In 2015, the UH-72A Lakota began being utilized at Fort Rucker, AL, as the Army’s primary flight instruction aircraft. It’s now the first taste that Army flight students get of the glory of rotary wing aviation.
Length: 42.7 feet (with rotor rotating)
Maximum weight: 7,903 pounds with freight and passengers, compared with the OH-58 Kiowa’s 5,500 pounds
Maximum altitude: 9,000 feet during regular flight
Maximum cruise speed: 145 knots (166.8 mph), just 6 knots less than a Black Hawk’s
Distance: 425 miles on a full tank
Crew: 1 pilot, 1 co-pilot, 6 passengers (standard); 1 pilot, 1 co-pilot, 2 medics and 2 stretchers (when used for medevac)