Nevada Army Guard acquires 2 late-model Lakota UH-72 helicopters

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By Spc. Adrianne Lopez

17th Sustainment Brigade


NORTH LAS VEGAS – The Nevada Army Guard’s wish list came to fruition during the holiday season with its acquisition of two state-of-the-art UH-72B Lakota helicopters in December. The Nevada Army Guard was one of nine National Guard states to receive two late-model Lakotas to enhance rotary-wing aircraft capabilities across the country, especially in mountainous states.

The Department of Defense purchased 18 UH-72B Lakota helicopters on Aug. 4, 2022, and the Nevada Army Guard received two of the new helicopters based on its domestic mission set and environmental factors. The new UH-72B model is more powerful than the older UH-72A model and will allow for hoist rescue operations at high elevations in Nevada. One UH-72B costs about $8 million, according to recent public government procurement contracts.

The Lakota is the U.S. Army’s light utility helicopter used widely in domestic operations, including search and rescue, medical evacuation and disaster response missions. The Lakota's versatility and advanced technology make it well-suited for domestic missions.

The Nevada Army Guard also possesses four older UH-72A Lakotas. Upon receipt of the two UH-72B Lakotas in December, the Nevada Guard forwarded two 72As to Fort Rucker, Ala.; those are set to be used for aviator training.

First Det. B/C Co. 3rd Battalion, 140th Aviation Regiment based in North Las Vegas is the unit that will maintain and operate the new Lakotas.

The Lakota is manufactured by Airbus Helicopters and has a range of more than 400 miles. The latest model features a wide spectrum of advanced technologies, including a glass cockpit, digital autopilot and a powerful propulsion system. The helicopter also has a spacious cabin that can accommodate up to seven passengers, making it ideal for transporting personnel and equipment.

The most visible difference between the B model and A model is the current five-bladed main rotor, versus the four-bladed configuration of the earlier UH-72A. The B model has a shrouded “Fenestron” tail rotor, instead of the open tail rotor of the A model.

Unit commander Maj. Colton Brauer said the addition of the late-model Lakotas will significantly enhance the Nevada Guard's ability to quickly respond to myriad contingencies and support the state’s emergency responders.

“The UH-72B model has more lift, agility and speed in comparison to the 72A model,” said Maj. Colton Brauer, the unit commander. “Now, when we do a search-and-rescue or counter-drug mission or transport personnel in the 72B model, we'll be more efficient.

“In the cockpit, we now have a four-axis autopilot and synthetic vision to see the runways and terrain. It's a much safer aircraft for the aircrew and much more comfortable (versus older model helicopters.)”