They were delivered to the Army Aviation Support Facility at Buckley Space Force Base, Colorado, on August 4. In total, nine states will receive two UH-72B models based on their previous UH-72A utilization and domestic operations support mission sets and environmental factors.
The Adjutant General of Colorado, US Army Brig Gen Laura Clellan said: “We constantly campaign for high-tech capabilities and capitalize on Colorado’s cutting-edge, integrated partners in the civil and defense sectors.”
State Army Aviation Officer US Army Col William Gentle, Colorado Army National Guard, said: “The Colorado National Guard will utilize the new platform primarily for counter-drug and search and rescue in Colorado. The increased aircraft capabilities over the UH-72A in support of domestic operations will help lessen the load on our UH-60 fleet.”
The new UH-72Bs are more powerful than the UH-72A. The power margins on the UH-72A made them unusable for hoist rescue operations at higher elevations in Colorado’s mountains. These new helicopters are now closer in power margins to the state’s UH-60 fleet and the Colorado Hoist Rescue Team (CHRT) can use the new Lakotas at higher elevations.
The CHRT’s mission is to incorporate civilian alpine rescue personnel and military helicopter capabilities to improve Colorado search and rescue systems, operations, and training. To date the CHRT has saved 13 lives already this year.
Instructor Pilot and CHRT Program Manager US Army Chief Warrant Officer 3 Clayton Horney said: “The UH-72B (Airbus H-145 D3) has 25% more power than the UH-72A, along with a redesigned five-bladed rotor system, Fenestron (enclosed) tail rotor, and four-axis autopilot that allows for hands-off hovering.”
The UH-72Bs cost roughly half as much to operate as UH-60 Black Hawks, benefitting both the Army and the state with substantial cost savings.
“The UH-72B is not a warfighting aircraft,” Gentle said. “This means that, traditionally, if our UH-60s were deployed in a federal capacity, we would be unable to support as many domestic operations missions locally. Pairing their lower cost of operation and higher power margins means we can save flying hours for our UH-60s.”