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LUH Takes More Hits

Another excellent dispatch from DT friend, Bob Cox, who's a top contributor to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's new Sky Talk blog and a veteran aerospace reporter for them...LUH.jpg

Pentagon weapons testers are not overly impressed with the Army's new light utility helicopter, the UH-72A Lakota, which is very similar to the Eurocopter EC-145.In a recently issued report, the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation said that while the new helicopters can probably serve fine as the equivalent of a small pickup truck they're not well suited to tougher tasks, such as carrying two critically injured patients - one of the Army's requirements.The UH-72A is intended primarily for use by the National Guard and stateside Army units as a utility aircraft, meaning carrying four or five people from point A to Point B. It's purpose is to allow the Army to keep its larger, more powerful Blackhawks for use by combat units. The report does indicate the Lakota is an improvement over the aging UH-1H Hueys and OH-58A/C Kiowa models the guard now has.But the helicopter failed to meet key mission requirements specified by the Army, including having enough room to carry two critically ill patients with an attending medic. It also cannot lift the required weights, internally or externally, at high altitudes and hot weather. And the cabin air conditioning, which is different than that of the commercial EC-145, cannot keep temperatures low enough. The aircraft manual specifies a condition where the avionics may shut down after just 30-minutes if operated at too high a temperature.Produced by Eurocopter/EADS, the UH-72A was selected by the Army a year ago after a competition involving four aircraft that also included entries from MD Helicopters, Bell Helicopter and AgustaWestland. American Eurocopter, the U.S. arm of the French-German consortium, is gearing up to build more than 300 of the new aircraft at a plant in Mississippi.

-- Christian

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