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New helicopters bolster rescue abilities in Colorado's high country

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The Colorado Army National Guard received the first of two new helicopters capable of hoist rescues in Colorado's mountains. 

The new UH-72Bs, referred to as "Lakotas," add to the current fleet of UH-60 Black Hawks, CH-47 Chinooks, and UH-72A Lakotas.

Colorado Army National Guard

The UH-72Bs can perform at higher elevations than the UH-72As, according to a press release. 

"The UH-72B 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.  

Colorado Army National Guard

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The new Lakotas are as capable of high-altitude hoists as the Black Hawks, U.S. Army spokesperson Capt. Remington Henderson told CBS4.

"Previously, only our Black Hawks were suitable for hoist rescues in the mountains of Colorado due to power margins necessary at high elevations," Henderson stated. "These new UH-72Bs...are more in alignment with Black Hawks, they can now be used for those missions as well.

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The first Lakota arrived Aug. 4. Both will be based for now at Buckley Space Force Base in Aurora. Nine states are receiving two Lakotas each.

"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."  

Colorado Army National Guard

The Lakotas are a military version of the Airbus H-145 D3. They cost roughly half as much to operate as the Black Hawks.

"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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