The Hawaii Army National Guard recently dedicated its two new UH-72A Lakota helicopters at the Guard’s Aviation Support Facility No. 2 in Hilo.The Lakota helicopters have replaced the older model OH-58 Kiowa helicopters. The Lakota is the Army’s most modern Light Utility Helicopter.
Hawaii is one of the first states to receive the new rotary-wing aircraft manufactured by American Eurocopter. The helicopters will be maintained and flown by the soldiers of Detachment 2, Company B, 3/140 Aviation Regiment.
The mission of the detachment will be to provide aerial command and control, surveillance and reconnaissance, and search and rescue capabilities.It is equipped with video equipment that can see in infrared and its communications suite is compatible with civil authorities such as fire fighters and police. It is also designed to be able to medevac injured patients to a hospital.
The UH-72A provides the Hawaii National Guard with much greater capabilities to support civil authorities during times of natural disasters or to help county fire fighters and police locate missing people in remote locations. It has two engines and can fly from Hilo to Lihue without having to refuel. It can remain on station for up to three hours.
The helicopters were transported to Hawaii from the manufacturing plant about two weeks ago via U.S. Air Force C-17 aircraft.
The U.S. Army reports that its newest helicopter, the UH-72A Lakota, is maintaining one of the highest mission capable rates.
“It maintains consistently 90 percent operational availability rates,” Col. Thomas Todd, project manager for Army utility helicopters said. “We obviously take a lot of pride in the fact that 90 percent means (a commander) gets nine out of 10 to fly…..
The UH-72A, which is approaching 100,000 flight hours with the Army, is made by American Eurocopter. The Army is buying 345 Lakotas, a light utility aircraft viewed as a replacement for the service’s OH-58As and C Kiowas. It has a cruise speed of 153 miles per hour, a range of 426 miles, and a service ceiling of 18,000 feet.
The helicopter is a modified version of Eurocopter’s commercial aircraft, the EC-145, and can be configured with mission equipment packages to support medical evacuation, VIP transport and security and support.