Airbus Helicopters has delivered a UH-72B to the U.S. Army National Guard from its production facility in Columbus, Mississippi. It's the first of 18 currently on order from the Army.
The UH-72B incorporates all the technologies in Airbus's latest corresponding civil helicopter, the H145. They include a five-bladed main rotor, the Fenestron shrouded tail rotor, Safran Arriel 2E engines, and the Airbus-designed Helionix avionics suite with a dual-duplex, four-axis autopilot that provides flight envelope and over-limit protection, automated takeoff, and fully coupled approaches to hover.
The Army first ordered the UH-72A Lakota in 2006 as part of its Light Utility Helicopter program. Airbus has delivered 463 UH-72A Lakota helicopters in nine configurations to the U.S. Army, Navy, and National Guard. The final UH-72A model was delivered in September 2020. The Army began using the UH-72A as its primary rotorcraft training aircraft in 2016 and eventually built its training fleet of Lakotas to 204 aircraft. The move to the more complex UH-72A was controversial, but the Army defended it, saying it provided the opportunity to integrate simulators into primary training, allowed students to stay with the same airframe longer, and better prepared them to fly more sophisticated twins such as the UH-60 Black Hawk, AH-64 Apache, and CH-47 Chinook.