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UH-72A Lakota Utility Helicopter in U.S. Army History

Overview

The US military sanctioned the acquisition of the utility helicopter UH-72A Lakota in the year 2005. The light utility aircraft has been manufactured by the EADS of North America. The helicopter is well equipped to support some operations like evacuation among others. The aircraft is designed in a manner that it serves the medical purpose and emergency operations. It can also provide for extensive medical care while in transit. All necessary medical equipment that supports the art of medication is designed into the aircraft. The US military has therefore been involved in the bid to modernize its operations in the recent past. It is along these lines that the company invited tenders for the production and design of the light carrier aircraft. The contract process took some time since there were almost five contenders in the whole bid. However the EADS North America emerged as a winner due to its track record in delivering quality carriers in the past. The UH-72A Lakota was considered quite convenient as far as personnel is concerned bearing in mind that its design allows for reduced workforce. Furthermore the aircraft can accommodate up to eight passengers. Among other key considerations that made the contract a success for the EADS Company is the fact that the carrier can support large-scale medical evacuation activities. As far as MEDVEC is concerned the light utility aircraft is well equipped to serve the demanding task of intensive medical care while in transit. The light utility aircraft can also accommodate the sophisticated medical care equipment of all kinds. This makes the carrier a better option than the rest since it goes a long way in assisting in the military evacuation and medical services.

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Eads North America

According to Fielding, “EADS North America is the holding company for northern American operations of LEADS, the second largest aerospace and Defense Company globally” (Fielding 222). Fielding (p224) continues to ascertain that, “The subsidiary with its parent company is a major supplier and partner in defense, homeland security, commercial aviation, telecommunications and services.” They therefore play a crucial role in the US economy by creating 190 000 jobs and $10 billion. The company takes pride in its position in the United States. The North American operations have segments spread over thirty-two cities and seventeen states. With such kind of protocol the company is able to meet the various needs and requirements of its customers. Its areas of specification in these regions are defense, domestic security, aerospace and business. The North American activities are: Euro copter company, airbus military North America among others. EADS North America Was formed in 2003 and has therefore been among the competitors for army aircraft and systems. The company has been in partnership with north Grumman as far as the air force new KC-45Atanker aircraft is concerned. They have an obligation of putting together and availing the complete systems of refueling and aircraft design. According to American Institute of Aeronautics, “The C-45A was selected in February 2008 and has its foundation on EADS great A330 jet which is consequently derived from the multi-role tanker transport A330. It is in the plans of the US air force of contracting the development of about 179 tanker aircraft” (American Institute of Aeronautics 436).

Having been selected for the delivery of UH-72A Light utility helicopter, the company is a significant contract for the US military. According to the June 2006 agreement, the North American company has already started the service (American Institute of Aeronautics 443). The entire program has a huge potential of up to $2 billion.

The presence of the company in the US military and domestic security has also experienced metamorphosis. The company has up to date been able to supply 90 euro copter HH-65 carriers for the coast guard for the domestic security purposes. The North American Euro copter section is assisting in the performance uplift for the whole HH-65c project. The airbus military North America is on its part providing 35 HC144A carriers for the navy and assistance programs. EADS is spearheading the supply of shipboard multimode acquisition radars for the federal security. The company strongly believes that the free and competitive spirit in the US will give birth to quality products with the best value. As the company participates in the military as well as the commercial aviation its business profile is also moving up.

The upward trend not only benefits the company but also the country at large. As far as the commercial aviation is concerned the company has a huge manifestation. Its subsidiary the airbus is a major supplier of jets and leasing operations. In the civil aviation sector Euro copter leads in the delivery of helicopters. A total of 2600 orders for airbuses have been received with the company having already serviced 1800 of them (Unites States Senate 73).

UH72A Lakota Contract

EADS North America’s initial two Uh 72A Lakota high utility helicopters of the US military were officially delivered to the 1-114 team which handles security issues. The acquisition process began in the year 2004; the total requirement by then was 322 helicopters most of which were meant for domestic security, administration, transport and medical services. Army tests and military training were also slated to be involved. The contract came out in July 2005. Prior to that a number of proposals had been received by the army. “The companies in competition included the Bell 210 and Bell 412, MD Explorer, AW139 and EADS North America” (Wunderle, William 124). The first bunch of cargo was brought by EADS. Out of the 322 set to be procured the National Guard will receive 200.

The acquisition process is set to run-up to the year 2017. The delivery of the UH-72A to the Mississippi guard was considered an important step in the acquisition of the Lakota’s. The company reportedly acknowledged the importance of the event which was well documented in the military as well. The first two helicopters received by the army were delivered by EADS; the company was on time for the initial deliveries. The deliveries involved quite a number of aspects, for instance the first deliveries had been assigned to the training center and ambulance detachment among others.

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Support for the contract mainly came from the US congress. Due to the great success of the light utility carrier the congress speeded the entire process of the acquisition. The contract was awarded to the EADS North America due to its proficiency in the past. The company has a long history of production and design of aircraft which are useful for military as well as commercial aviation. With specifications for military aviation the company is a pet name in the United States basing on its past records in the production and delivery of the same. The company’s UH-72A project symbolizes new entries in the history of military aircraft service. The deliveries followed immediately in the same year after the awarding of the contract to the company. The deliveries have since taken a predictable pattern in the near past. There has been a spate of deliveries structured in monthly patterns. Demand for the Lakota’s is slated to skyrocket bearing in mind that they might be stationed on international bases. At this rate, the aircraft is likely to register international demand for production and sale (United States Army 12).

Acquisition Style

The LUH project was incepted in the 2004 with a requirement for 322 helicopters for domestic security, administration, logistics, medical evacuation and support. Military tests and training processes are also provided for int the design of the aircraft. The contract was incepted in the last part of July 2005. Approximately five proposals were involved. According to Fielding, “Those competing for the contract included: the Bell 210 and Bell 412, MD Explorer and AW139 and the EADS North America marketed its UH-145 aspect of the EC145 for the project” (224).

According to Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, “The acquisition process for the LUH-72A, was accelerated by the USA congress due to the great successes of the aircraft and that the success of the entire process can be attributed to the clarity of purpose” (24). According to close sources the entire program was well planned and executed in a manner that begot the success. The most crucial aspect of the entire process was the army’s intention to modernize its operations all over (Stockholm International Peace Research Institute 16). The acquisition was actually based on the army’s aviation modernization program. Its success therefore has a lot to do with the initial planning and execution of the entire project so as to make it a success (Polmar 564).

The military’s needs and requirements were defined and acknowledged at the right time. The essence of the mission had been well understood and therefore there was no ambiguity about the same. For the military the aim was to fulfill the domestic security demands. There was also the plan to take back the UH-60Black Hawks and in their place put the UH-1H Huey and OH-58A/C Kiowa. More than twenty UH-60s were returned and other is expected to follow suit as the Lakota’s get into their roles. The transition for the EADS from UH72A in Germany and Columbus is almost through. The training process has been part of the entire acquisition program. More and more pilots have been trained so far by the EADS Company.

The method of acquisition of the light utility helicopter was made in a transitional manner. Under this program, the grant of contracts is given periodically to monitor the performance and operations of the carrier. For instance the supply of the same has been fragmented into two. First is the active military department and the other is the section of the home guard. Since the program also involves the training of pilots the first delivery involves those helicopters to be used for the training of the pilots. This is done at the company’s and also at the military units. The final contract for the Lakota’s was granted in 2010 for the delivery in 2011. The total value of the contract was 247.2 million. The whole process has involved systematic and successive processes so as to affect the entire acquisition (United States Congress 13).

Merits

The greatest benefit of this acquisition is the low load of work involved due to the altitude hold and design of autopilot. A look at the key data of the aircraft reveals it s inherent benefits to the American military by all means. The aircraft has a capacity of 2 crew members and 8 passengers. It is much better compared to other carriers which rarely support any passenger or troop on board. This makes the medical operations as well as the crew while on transit more practical. Under normal circumstances the American military purchases aircraft that can assist in evacuation, activities as well as emergency medical care.

The UH-72A Lakota is best suited for these operations. No wonder the ones already available with the defense have gone a long way in assisting in these operations. These have been the aircraft best attribute that has made the department to think of involving other key sectors in its purchases in future. For instance there are plans to roll out more Lakota’s for homeland security among other key roles in the United States department of defense. The design of the aircraft is made in a manner that both the rotors are rotating making its operations quite convenient. This attribute leads to faster operations since the aircraft is best suited for the emergency and medical care activities (Pratt and East-Hartford 315).

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The light utility aircraft was granted to the army guard in the year 2008. There was unprecedented celebration at the transition from the OH58 Kiowa. The LUH was a major success right in its time of inception. The contract for the Lakota was widely perceived to be a bid by the department of defense to modernize its operations. And indeed the light utility aircraft has lived up to the standards by ushering in an element of modernity in the running of the entire department (Flugwelt 23). The modernization program of the army aviation has therefore been successful with the acquisition of the LUH-72A. No wonder the secret behind the acquisition of the light utility aircraft was to find and deliver an atmosphere with the capacity of enabling wide range of missions through the purchase.

In 2006 the defense chose EADS North America aircraft (UH-145) attribute of the EC-145 as the ultimate victor of the LUH competition. The national training center air ambulance department also got UH-72A in the middle of 2007. This became the first unit of operation for the Lakota. From that time to now the defense wing has received 90 LUH-72A most of which (88) are in service at the National Guard and military units all over the country. However the project has not been a smooth sailing since it has had its inconveniences. Despite this the program has been great success; the congress has therefore made the acquisition process smoother.

The last consignment of the 345 aircraft had been planned for the year 2016. However the production will now be done in 2015. The training of personnel has also been a big benefit for the military in the whole process. The EADS Company and its subsidiaries have trained more than 500 of the military’s pilots so as to be able to operate the light utility aircraft. I addition to these profound benefits the aircraft has a twin-engine and can cruise up to 131 knots and can also suit various programs.

The military has since confirmed the benefits and convenience ushered in by the aircraft. Reports from the army indicate that the light utility aircraft has been successful in many aspects. The supply of the light utility Lakota’s has been divided into two. There are those headed for the active army and those for the National Guard department. First the company delivered the aircraft for the training of pilots. This exercise was to be conducted by the US army and other group countries. It was here that the fifth-year contract for the UH-72A was granted. Its value stands at $247.2 million. The next delivery of the light utility helicopter is therefore slated for 2011. This will make the ideal number of Lakota’s rising 178 for the US army.

Aircraft Design

The UH-72A has been successful in almost all aspects of its operation. The light carrier aircraft has offered dynamism in the American military environment. However the outfit has not been without defects, there have been several defects noticed in the aircraft. During the time of testing the UH-72A Lakota in a weather of approximately 80 degrees, temperature in the aircraft’s cockpit rose to 104 degrees. The danger according to experts is that control and communication can be interrupted under such situations. The light utility carrier is therefore not appropriate for hot environments.

The overheating problem is the major defect of the UH-72A Lakota. This has presented an unprecedented challenge to the United States army which has been spending a lot on the correction of defects of aircraft from Europe. A lot of money is normally channeled to the correction of defects making the entire process very expensive. The scenario is perceived by some as a waste of taxpayer’s money which is repeatedly channeled into the process (Technology Engineering 70). The Lakota has therefore proved to be very involving since the inconveniences caused are great and the expenditure is unmanageable.

In order to tackle the risk posed by the overheating condition, air conditioners must be added to all the 322 aircraft. As much as the army has not responded on the exact cost of the process it is evident that it will be a huge sum of money. This can be described as a loss of resources. There have been reports of concern over the problem. As much as some have advocated for the fixing of the problem other quarters have called for the cancellation of the process. This is due to reports that there are many other defects in the helicopter that cannot just be fixed at all. The political class has therefore vehemently condemned the defects and advocated for the nullification of the acquisition process as a whole. This has been accelerated by concerns over the amount to be spent on the defects and the sources of the finances. The military unit has however maintained that the problem should not cause concern since it is being fixed.

The defects were realized during the testing of the first batch of the Lakota’s by the relevant firm. The next deliveries are slated to be done in the coming eight years. Air conditioners are common in commercial aircraft (Duran 63). The military versions normally do not have conditioners so as to prevent the strain on the weight. It is against this background that the challenge posed by the overheating Lakota is of a unique stature. This is a major blow for the military operations bearing in mind that the Lakota’s were procured to assist in the disaster relief, search and rescue, evacuation and VIP tour. It was therefore expected to be suitable for all climate conditions.

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Apart from overheating the Lakota cannot handle more than two injured persons yet it has a huge capacity of medics. This is considered a huge flaw as far as evacuation is concerned. Therefore the Lakota is considered not to be versatile since it cannot handle certain levels of evacuation and disaster ideals (Congressional Quarterly, 65). This has made the military consider buying more versatile aircraft in the future which can handle a large magnitude of tasks (US department of Transportation 2010).

Fixing of the Defects

Following the realization that the UH72A Lakota helicopter has a number of defects various efforts have been put in place so as to address the problems (EADS North America 2010). The aircraft was discovered to be having several defects during the test flying program by the military pilots. Among the failures of the helicopter design was the overheating problem which poses huge risks for the users of the helicopter. Apart from the overheating problem The helicopter was discovered to be highly inefficient as far as handling a large number of casualties. The design of the aircraft was made in such a way that it has room for many medical practitioners yet it cannot support the handling of more injured people. The fixing of the overheating problem was slated to be done by the installation of air conditioners in all the 325 helicopters. According to army sources this was going to be done immediately. In fact, a number of helicopters have already been taken back so that the fixing of air conditioners takes place (US department of transportation).

Future of the product

The UH-72A Lakota has a bright future based on its current prospects and performance. The light utility aircraft has been of great success in its application with the US military mainly due to the aircraft’s versatility. Since the army has successfully tested and approved the acquisition process there are chances that the helicopter might be stationed at foreign military bases. This will definitely increase the demand for the same and the company will get more contracts. Apart from this the US military also conducts its operations with other countries. Chances are that the demand for the aircraft will arise from international clients who had tested their use will want to have a piece of their own. The company is set for a major boost in its operations since it will now become a key player both for the commercial aviation and military operations (Technology Engineering 12).

As far as the product is concerned the UH-72A is likely to undergo metamorphosis in the near future (Sullivan 186). This certainly going to be motivated by the failures and defects of the same in the various applications to which it has been subjected. The light utility helicopter has experienced several defects in its operation. During the testing practice it was discovered that the helicopter overheats. This was a major flaw prompting the military to embark on corrective measures so as to save the process of lapse. Voices of the cancellation of the contract were rampant with the political class in the forefront. Such lessons might work very well for the company if it can internalize them and design future products considering them (Wunderle 112). Lifecycle costs of the UH-72A are likely t experience an upward trend in the near future because the demand is to come with a more careful consideration of quality.

Conclusion

The acquisition of the UH-72A has ushered in a new ambiance as far as American military aviation is concerned. The procurement of the light utility helicopter has been a long journey that is slated to go through to the year 2016. The EADS North American company has been at the forefront of the entire process since it was incepted. The company which participated and won the contract for the supply of the helicopter has been prompt in its delivery so far. The contract was mainly aimed at supplying the National Guard and the domestic security team with reliable carriers of a versatile nature. The process however had its ups and downs. The US congress has been documented to have been instrumental in accelerating the acquisition process.

The army derived many benefits most of which have been attributed to its clarity of purpose as far as modernization of its aviation is concerned. The UH-72A Lakota’s however had a number of defects that generated many hiccups in the process of acquisition. Its overheating attribute almost caused the contract to be canceled as voice became loud in the political circles. The future of the commodity looks bright basing on its innovativeness. The product is likely to attract international demand in the future. The quality aspect of the product is likely to take an upward trend as the company learns from its mistakes.

Works Cited

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StudyCorgi. (2021, December 15). UH-72A Lakota Utility Helicopter in U.S. Army History. https://studycorgi.com/uh-72a-lakota-utility-helicopter-in-u-s-army-history/

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StudyCorgi. "UH-72A Lakota Utility Helicopter in U.S. Army History." December 15, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/uh-72a-lakota-utility-helicopter-in-u-s-army-history/.

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StudyCorgi. 2021. "UH-72A Lakota Utility Helicopter in U.S. Army History." December 15, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/uh-72a-lakota-utility-helicopter-in-u-s-army-history/.

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