Colorado National Guard first to receive modernized helicopter capability

During a historical U.S. Space Force ceremony, the Department of the Air Force renamed Buckley...
During a historical U.S. Space Force ceremony, the Department of the Air Force renamed Buckley Air Force Base to Buckley Space Force Base at the Leadership Development Center, June 4, 2021.(Buckley Air Force Base)
Published: Aug. 11, 2022 at 12:45 PM MDT
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AURORA, Colo. (KKCO) - The Colorado National Guard Army Aviation Support Facility, Buckley Space Force Base, Aurora, Colorado, has received the first two of the 18 UH-72B Lakota helicopters purchased by the Department of Defense exclusively for the U.S. Army National Guard.

Nine states are coordinated to receive two each of the B models based on their past UH-72A utilization, domestic operations support mission sets, and environmental factors.

“We constantly campaign for high-tech capabilities and capitalize on Colorado’s cutting-edge, integrated partners in the civil and defense sectors,” The Adjutant General of Colorado U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Laura Clellan said.

“The Colorado National Guard will utilize the new platform primarily for counter-drug and search and rescue in Colorado,” State Army Aviation Officer U.S. Army Col. William Gentle, Colorado Army National Guard, said. “The increased aircraft capabilities over the UH-72A in support of domestic operations will help lessen the load on our UH-60 fleet.”

The UH-72A models had a power that made them unusable for hoist rescue operations in higher elevations in the Colorado mountains. The new UH-72B models are more powerful than the UH-72A models, and resemble similar power to the UH-60 fleet, which will allow for the Colorado Hoist Rescue Team to use the new Lakotas at higher elevations.

The Colorado Hoist Rescue Team’s mission is to incorporate civilian alpine rescue personnel and military helicopter capabilities to improve Colorado search and rescue systems, operations, and training. The CHRT has saved 13 lives year-to-date.

“The UH-72B (Airbus H-145 D3) has 25 percent more power than the UH-72A, along with a redesigned 5-bladed rotor system, fenestron (enclosed) tail rotor, and 4-axis autopilot that allows for hands-off hovering,” Instructor Pilot and Colorado Hoist Rescue Team Program Manager U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 3 Clayton Horney said.

UH-72Bs cost roughly half as much to operate as UH-60s, which benefit both the Army and the state.

“The UH-72B is not a warfighting aircraft,” Gentle said. “This means that, traditionally, if our UH-60s were deployed in a federal capacity that we would be unable to support as many domestic operations missions locally. Pairing their lower cost of operation and higher power margins means that we can save flying hours for our UH-60s.”

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