The Nevada Army Guard was one of nine state National Guards to receive two aircraft of this type, from a batch of 18 purchased by the DoD in August 2022. The North Carolina Army National Guard also received two of the same aircraft in November.
The new UH-72B aircraft have a five-bladed rotor, and offer more power than Nevada’s fleet of four older, four-bladed UH-72A models.
This power increase will enable hoist rescue operations at higher elevations. While Nevada is most well-known for the Nevada desert, it is also home to a number of mountains – most notably, the Carson Range spur of the Sierra Nevadas.
Two older aircraft will be replaced, at a base in North Las Vegas. The older UH-72As will in turn be transferred to Fort Rucker, Alabama, for use in training.
The Lakota is the US Army’s light utility helicopter of choice and is also widely used for domestic operations, including medical evacuations, disaster response and search and rescue. It has a range of over 400 miles (644km), boasting a glass cockpit and digital autopilot, as well as capacity for up to seven passengers in its main cabin space.
In addition to the new five-bladed rotor, the B model also features an enclosed ‘Fenestron’ tail rotor, unlike the open tail rotor of the A model.
UH-72 is a militarised version of the Airbus Helicopters H145. Airbus has been collaborating with VRM Switzerland to develop a virtual reality simulator for the aircraft.