The UH-1H was replaced in front line service with the US Army by the superb UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter. But the Blackhawk costs a lot more than a Huey, and for a lot of missions, it is more helicopter than is needed. And so, here and there, the Huey actually soldiered on for decades after it was replaced in the assault helicopter battalions. It was used for command and control, search and rescue, MEDEVAC, disaster relief and as a trainer.
But old helicopters get expensive. And so, the Army went looking to replace its fleet of Hueys. After quite a few upheavals and disasters in helicopter procurement and development in the 80s, 90s, and early years of the 21st century, the Army decided to buy a commercial, off the shelf existing design. And this helicopter, while painted green, would in fact not be equipped, nor intended, to serve overseas in a theater of war. Instead, it would fulfill the stateside operational support mission, thus freeing up UH-60 Blackhawks from those roles. And it would be cheaper to buy and operate than Blackhawks (or Hueys, for that matter).
After a competition, the Army made the rather controversial decision to buy a European design, the Eurocopter EC-145. Known in the Army as the UH-72A Lakota, its been in service since 2006. While some components are built overseas, most fabrication and final assembly is in a US plant.
In 2014, the Army decided to replace it’s TH-67 Creek helicopter trainers with the UH-72A, bringing the current fleet size up t0 about 350.
Really, the only difference between a civilian EC-145 and a UH-72 is the addition of an ARC-231 radio.
Here’s some lovely scenes of a few flying through the southwest.