The UH-72A Lakota was the center of attention at an unveiling ceremony held earlier this month in Germany, offering military officials from around the world a first-hand look at the U.S. Army’s multi-mission Light Utility Helicopter.
The event – which attracted 23 delegates representing 17 countries – was held in accordance with the 1999 Vienna Document, which requires NATO members to host demonstrations when deploying new types of major weapon or equipment systems.
Eleven Lakotas currently are operating in Germany, seven of which are being used for field exercises where troops are taught to medically evacuate wounded personnel or call for gunships during firefights.
The other four UH-72As were deployed as part of a one-year rotation of the Washington, D.C. National Guard’s 121st Medical Air Ambulance Company. These Lakotas’ current area of operations covers Hohenfels, Germany – where the Army’s Joint Multinational Readiness Center is located – and Grafenwoehr, which is home to the Joint Multinational Training Center.
The unveiling ceremony included an aerial demonstration, a briefing on the Army’s plans for fielding the UH-72A and a question-and-answer session with crewmembers – who detailed how the helicopter’s advanced capabilities reduce their workload.
“With the autopilot system, if we want to just kind of orbit and fulfill our [training role], we can just put a couple points in and the aircraft will fly itself,” said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Harold Eggleston in a Stars and Stripes article.
“It is easier to access the patient on this aircraft,” added paramedic Corporal Roger Miller. “You don’t have to look for things all over the floor like you did in the [UH-1] Huey.” Unlike the Vietnam-era UH-1 – which the Lakota is replacing – there also is enough space to carry two patients.
The Light Utility Helicopter made its European debut in May, with five aircraft arriving for training and support operations at the JMRC. They will be joined by another five UH-72As that are scheduled for delivery in January 2011.
To date, the Army has received more than 110 UH-72As and has plans to acquire a total of 345 aircraft through 2016.