Feature story The UH-72A Lakota arrives for its delivery ceremony to the District of Columbia National Guard

March 11, 2009
EADS North America’s UH-72A Lakota touched down in the nation’s capital this morning, positioning the U.S. Army’s new Light Utility Helicopter for its official delivery to the District of Columbia National Guard tomorrow.  Two of three Lakotas delivered to date will be presented during the public ceremony on March 12 as this unit becomes the latest to receive UH-72As. 

Our photo report details the no. 1 Lakota’s arrival from Fort Belvoir’s Davison Army Airfield, which is located across the Potomac River in Virginia.  Davison Army Airfield will be the home base for the D.C. National Guard’s eight UH-72As, as well as eight additional Lakotas assigned to the Military District of Washington.

> Additional information on the UH-72’s delivery to the D.C. National Guard is available in the press release.

(Click on the images for a larger version):

The UH-72A prepares to touch down at the corner
of Independence Avenue and 19th Street, which was designated as the landing zone for today’s operation.    It is one of six D.C. National Guard Lakotas that will be assigned to the 121st Medical Company (Air Ambulance), and capable of MEDEVAC missions. The other two aircraft will be for the 1-224th Aviation Battalion (Security and Support).

D.C. National Guard pilots give the UH-72A high marks for its agility and small footprint – which allows the rotary-wing aircraft to maneuver in close while producing less rotor wash than larger helicopters.  This capability is illustrated by today’s touchdown, which was made while traffic continued to flow just yards away on 19th Street (including a D.C. Metrobus, visible in the background). 

More than 200 of the 345 UH-72As delivered to the U.S. Army are expected to be fielded for Army National Guard units throughout the United States – including the D.C. National Guard.  Of this total, approximately 25 percent will be configured for MEDEVAC missions, with a side-mounted external hoist and the ability to
carry litters. 

The UH-72A’s ability to be easily moved on the ground and stored is facilitated by its main rotor blade folding feature.  After this morning’s landing, D.C. National Guard personnel completed the blade folding process in about 10 minutes.  The Lakota has a four-blade hingeless main rotor system that uses a simple, rugged design, and has advanced composite blades.

The UH-72A is towed by a HUMVEE for its short trip from the landing zone into the D.C. National Guard Armory, where tomorrow’s delivery ceremony will be held.  Lakotas will replace the D.C. National Guard’s inventory of aging UH-1 Hueys, providing a new-generation helicopter with significantly improved performance and mission capabilities.

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