Artist's rendition of an H-72 Lakota in USN Test Pilot
10/15/2008 - PATUXENT RIVER, MD. – NavAir is teaming
with the US Army to buy five new H-72 Lakota helicopters for
the United States Naval Test Pilot School located here.
The helicopter the H-72, will replace is the Vietnam-era TH-6B
Cayuse helicopter used by the Test Pilot School since the early
1990’s. The youngest of the TPS TH-6’s were built
for the Army in 1968. “The six TH-6’s have served
TPS very well over their 17 years of service but they were tired
aircraft and in real need of replacement,” said CAPT James
Glass, Commanding Officer, U.S. Naval Test Pilot School. “We
are working towards accepting the Lakotas at TPS in 2009.”
The six USNTPS TH-6B helicopters retired in early 2008 were:
“The Army has a $3 billion contract with EADS North America
to buy 345 of the H-72s for their Light Utility Helicopter replacement
program. NAVAIR is working with the Army to use this same contract
to buy the five Lakotas for TPS,” said Capt. James G.
Wallace, Program Manager for the Support and Commercial Derivative
Aircraft Program Office (PMA-207). “NAVAIR’s cost
for the five Lakotas and their support and maintenance costs
total approximately $30 million.”
“This program is a great opportunity for further cooperation
between the U.S. Navy and the Army in the area of aviation.
The success of the Light Utility Helicopter program makes this
possible by being able to provide the necessary aircraft in
the desired timeframe without any affect on the Army’s
needs and requirements,” said Col. Neil Thurgood, Project
Manager Utility Helicopters, U.S. Army.
New US Army "Lakota" #07-2006 from the National
Training Center Air Ambulance Det is seen working the
Edwards AFB range, CA 6/14/07
Photo: Dan Stijovich
The H-72 Lakota is a commercial off-the-self Eurocopter EC-145.
Adding a flight test data collection package is the only modification
required to meet TPS requirements. The TPS Lakotas will also
have air conditioning, jettison-able crew doors, underwater
locator beacon, Traffic Collision Avoidance System, a fixed
beam cargo hook, and upgraded skid steps, all are standard options
available on the EC-145.
“The advanced features of the H-72 are critical to preparing
rotary wing test pilots to perform testing on advanced helicopters.
TPS is the Department of Defense’s rotary wing test pilot
school. The school trains pilots from the Army, Air Force, Marine
Corps, Navy, Coast Guard, and multiple international partners,”
added Glass. “The H-72’s features and capabilities
match those of current and future rotary wing systems far better
than the TH-6 and will ensure TPS graduates are prepared to
The Lakota’s name follows a Department of Defense regulation
that designations for new Army helicopters be Native American
in origin. Authorization for the Lakota name included approval
from a majority of the council members that form the Sioux Nation.
Lakota Indians are part of the seven confederations that compose
the Sioux nation, and were known as a peaceful, non-aggressive
people that lived by hunting buffalo on horseback.
The H-72 Lakota is built on two production lines, American
Eurocopter in Columbus, Miss. and at Eurocopter’s main
facility in Donauworth, Germany.
Source: NavAir Press Release