Study of the Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) acquisition program as a model for defense acquisition of non-developmental items
Yoder, E. Cory
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The UH-72A Light UtilityHelicopter (LUH)was acquired for performance of general support tasks (training, medical evacuation, law enforcement, etc.) in permissive (non-combat) environments, to replace Vietnam-era helicopters, and to free up Black Hawk UH-60 helicopters for combat use. This acquisition program is the Army’s first major acquisition of commercially available helicopters subsequently modified for military use. Although initial testing and use indicated the need for unforeseen modifications to the helicopters, in most respects, this program was successful. The successes included expeditious acquisition and fielding, avoidance of excessive costs, and acquisition of helicopters that incorporated the latest available technology (developed at industry, not at government, expense). Additionally, the helicopters could be, and were, readily tailored for diverse uses. Also, they highly satisfied users’ requirements. Finally, all deliveries were on-time or ahead of schedule. These successes occurred largely because the UH-72A was a non-developmental item with mature technology at the time of acquisition. The time and expense that would otherwise have been needed for development and for ramp-up of production were avoided. Additional factors contributing to the success of the program were clear definition of the requirement, avoidance of scope creep, and close cooperation among all stakeholders.
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