Feature story The UH-72A has become a “cornerstone” of the U.S. Army’s aviation fleet

March 4, 2010

The UH-72A Lakota program’s production excellence – and the Light Utility Helicopter’s demonstrated performance in a full range of operational missions – were underscored by top U.S. Army officials at the 100th delivery ceremony for this rotary-wing aircraft.

Brig. Gen. Crosby hands the logbook and keys for the 100th UH-72A to Col. Neil Thurgood, U.S. Army Utility Helicopter Project Manager, to conclude the delivery ceremony.  Joining them are Col. Brian Diaz, Training Doctrine Command (TRADOC) Capabilities Manager - Lift, and Lt. Col. Dave Bristol, Product Manager - Light Utility Helicopter.

Brig. Gen. William T. Crosby, the Program Executive Officer of U.S. Army Aviation, called the UH-72A “a success of the first order,” and said the Lakota already has become a cornerstone of the service’s aviation fleet.

Speaking at the Light Utility Helicopter production facility in Columbus, Mississippi – which is operated by the American Eurocopter business unit of EADS North America –Crosby said the UH-72A is helping improve the Army aviation’s capabilities in mission effectiveness, maneuverability and reliability. 

“I am extremely proud of everyone on the team that developed this machine, and I congratulate all of you for the first 100 deliveries of the 345 new aircraft the U.S. Army is planning to buy,” Crosby said during a speech at the formal handover ceremony.  “I am pleased to report our units have maintained a near zero mishap rate while achieving an operational availability rate of over 90 percent in the course of flying tens of thousands of hours with the Lakota.”

Crosby was joined by other Army officers present at the 100th delivery ceremony for an update visit of the UH-72A’s purpose-built production line at Columbus, which has provided all 100 aircraft on time, on quality and within budget.

“I was pleased to observe the high-tech processes involved in the UH-72A production here,” he said.  “The employees at this facility have brought new and improved solutions to many of the problems we’ve faced across the industrial base of our helicopter industry.  They have come up with answers, and have shared them with us in the Army.”

Interest in the Lakota has been shown by many other countries for potential foreign military sales, Crosby told attendees at the delivery ceremony. “In addition to having acquitted itself extremely well even in the most distant parts of our land, I am pleased that many other countries have also indicated an interest in this airframe,” he explained.  “When a system performs as well as the Lakota – and with the excellent reliability it is providing – the reputation spreads by word-of-mouth.”

In addition to the UH-72A’s deployment within the United States for homeland security, medical evacuation, search and rescue, support and transport missions, the Lakota also has shown its capabilities in disaster relief missions following the Haiti earthquake earlier this year.

Col. L. Neil Thurgood, the U.S. Army’s Light Utility Helicopter Project Manager, said the UH-72A’s flight performance capabilities have been particularly appreciated by pilots and crews during these relief missions, along with the aircraft’s twin-engine safety.   In addition, the Lakota’s state-of-the-art avionics suite – which includes radios that allow communications with civilian agencies – have significantly facilitated the coordination in a situation where many participants are involved.


  • See the press release for additional information on today’s milestone delivery.
  • Our “walkaround” photo feature details the UH-72A Lakota’s expanding mission applications.
  • High-resolution images of speakers and participants in the 100th UH-72A Lakota’s delivery event are available on the photo gallery page.


• View the News archive for other stories.