US Army Lakota. (photo: US Army)
Airbus has produced the first of six UH-72A light utility helicopters for the Royal Thai Army (RTA), officials at the company's production facility in Columbus, Mississippi, said on 14 May.
The aircraft will be delivered in December to the US Army, which will transfer it to the RTA, according to a company spokesman. The remaining five aircraft will be built in 2015.
Thailand requested six UH-72As through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) process in 2013. The contract is worth USD77 million and would be the first international sale of the aircraft, a variant of the EC145 civil helicopter.
Thailand is recapitalising its rotary wing fleet. In February 2011 it acquired three Mil Mi-17V-5 multimission helicopters from Russia, with three further helicopters ordered. In October 2012 the RTA signed a contract for two AgustaWestland AW139s for transport and utility missions with delivery set for this year.
In August 2009 the Defense Security Co-operation Agency announced an FMS of three UH-60L aircraft, while in March 2010 the Thai government approved a proposal to purchase three UH-60Ms. In October 2011, the Thai Cabinet approved a USD90 million plan to procure two further Black Hawks.