UH-72 Lakota Light Helicopter Lands Airbus in US Defense Market
Feb 18/15: 41 More Lakotas. The U.S. army is to purchase 41 more Lakotas for $220.5 million. That will make a total of 372 to date.
Sept 22/14: Lawsuit. AgustaWestland sues the US Army, seeking an injunction to stop its planned UH-72A training helicopter purchase. The claim states that the Sept 4/14 sole-sourcing decision wasn’t justified properly, while claiming a massive price difference of $7 million per UH-72 vs. $3.25 million for their helicopter. That price matches expected costs for the AW119Kx Koala, which is built near Philadelphia.
AgustaWestland representatives point out that the UH-72 has a restricted flight maneuver envelope, while Bell Helicopter representatives cite “a cost difference of $1,000 to $1,500 per flying hour more for the UH-72” in exchange for training on a glass cockpit and a twin-engine platform.
The stakes are higher than usual. AgustaWestland is also touting the Koala as a replacement for the US Navy’s TH-57 Creek, which is based on the same Bell 206 airframe as the Army’s TH-67 fleet that the Airbus UH-72 would replace. The Navy doesn’t have a formal program to replace the TH-57 Sea Ranger fleet, but it is aging, and an Army trainer buy would be a natural cross-service lead in. Meanwhile, the threat of sequestration (q.v. Aug 24/14) is driving pressure to buy more UH-72As immediately. If the lawsuit delays the training buy for long enough, the Army has to choose between accepting the risk of a smaller replacement fleet, or picking a cheaper option. Sources: AIN, “AgustaWestland Sues over Airbus Army Trainer Plan” | Bloomberg, “AgustaWestland Sues U.S. to Block Airbus Helicopter Buy” | Reuters, “Finmeccanica unit sues to block U.S. helicopter deal for Airbus” | Defense News, “AgustaWestland Pitches AW119 for US Navy Helicopter Trainer”.
DID’s FOCUS articles offer in-depth, updated looks at significant military programs of record. This is DID’s FOCUS Article regarding the US Army’s Light Utility Helicopter program, covering the program and its objectives, the winning bid team and industrial arrangements, and contracts.
The US Army’s LUH program will finish as a 325 helicopter acquisition program that will be worth about $2.3 billion when all is said and done. It aimed to replace existing UH-1 Hueys and OH-58 Kiowa utility variants in non-combat roles, freeing up larger and more expensive UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters for front-line duty. In June 2006, a variant of Eurocopter’s EC145 beat AgustaWestland’s AB139, Bell-Textron’s 412EP Twin Huey, and MD Helicopters’ 902 Explorer NOTAR (No Tail Rotor) design. The win marked EADS’ 1st serious military win in the American market, and their “UH-145” became the “UH-72A Lakota” at an official December 2006 naming ceremony.
Eurocopter has continued to field new mission kits and deliver helicopters from its Mississippi production line, while trying to build on their LUH breakthrough. A training helicopter win will keep the line going for a couple more years…
The LUH Program: Objectives & Background
The LUH Winner: Eurocopter’s EC145/ UH-72A
UH-72A Lakota Variants
LUH Industrial Arrangements
American UH-72As: Contracts and Key Events
FY 2013 – 2014
FY 2007 and Earlier
Appendix A: Eurocopter – Anatomy of a Win
Additional Readings & Sources
News & Views
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