The U.S. Army awarded Airbus a $27.8 million contract this week to upgrade the Army National Guard Security & Support Battalion Mission Equipment Package (MEP).
Upgrades to the MEP will allow the UH-72A Lakota, the U.S. Army’s multi-mission helicopter, to conduct day and night operations. The new capabilities include an advanced moving map, enhanced digital interfaces, new monitors, an airborne mission management system, and other system improvements.
“This award provides pilots with significantly increased functionality and capability to carry out today’s demanding missions, further enhancing the Lakota’s value as an ISR asset for the National Guard,” said Scott Tumpak, Vice President of Military Line of Business for Airbus U.S. Space and Defense.
The UH-72A Lakota multi-purpose military aircraft has been around since the mid-2000s. It came into the world as the military variant of the Eurocopter EC145 (now Airbus Helicopters) and is designed to take on a range of missions, from logistics and support missions for homeland security to disaster response missions and medical evacuations.
The UH-72A Lakota is powered by a pair of Turbomeca Arriel turboshaft engines capable of developing 738 hp (550 kW) each. The helicopter can fly at altitudes of over 13,182 feet (4,018 meters), reach a maximum speed of 153 mph (246 km/h), and have a maximum range of 426 miles (685 km). The helicopter is controlled by two pilots and can transport a total of nine people if needed.
MEP-equipped UH-72As are specifically designed to execute National Guard operations across a range of missions, including domestic operations, counter-drug, and border security. The Army contract will retrofit up to 50 Security & Support Battalion aircraft deployed throughout the United States. There are currently 107 in the fleet.
These aircraft will be modified at Airbus’ Columbus, Mississippi helicopter production facility, where more than 480 UH-72A and UH-72B Lakota, based on the H145, have been delivered to the U.S. Army since 2006.