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How Airbus’s UH-72 Unmanned Logistics Connector is revolutionising USMC logistics

18th June 2024 - 13:06 GMT | by Matty Todhunter in Paris

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The UH-72 was selected to participate in Phase 1 of the USMC Aerial Logistics Connector (ALC) programme. (Photo: Airbus)

Unveiled in early 2024, the UH-72 Logistics Connector is a pivotal component of the Aerial Logistics Connector (ALC), aimed at addressing the logistics needs of the US Marine Corps (USMC).

The UH-72 Logistics Connector (LC), a drone developed by Airbus and adapted from the UH-72B crewed helicopter, is a derivative of the H145. The platform was unveiled in early 2024 and is a key component of the USMC Light Utility Transformative Vertical Lift (TVL) programme which is addressing the force’s logistical requirements.

The UH-72 LC was introduced to the market at Sea-Air-Space 2024 and boasts several features that distinguish it from the traditional crewed UH-72A and updated UH-72B that was introduced into US Army fleets in 2021. It incorporates an open autonomy and digital backbone, enabling future software enhancements and increased operational flexibility, while its architecture allows for the integration of new capabilities as technological advancements emerge. The aircraft will also incorporate modifications to rapidly load and unload key military payloads.

Carl Forsling, business development manager at Airbus US Space & Defense, said that the drone would be manufactured on the same production line as its crewed counterpart to ensure the production process was as streamlined and efficient as possible.

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The UH-72 LC can transport up to 4,000 pounds of cargo, including standard containers and ordnance, and Airbus has adapted the original crewed platform to facilitate both internal and external cargo carriage.

The primary customer for the UH-72 is the USMC, which has specific logistics requirements for operations in Pacific Island chains. Designed with these needs in mind, the drone offers a robust solution for transporting supplies and equipment across challenging terrains and isolated locations.

In mid-May 2024, Airbus announced that the UH-72 had been selected to participate in Phase 1 of the USMC Aerial Logistics Connector programme, also known as the Large ULS-A effort, which Shephard Defence Insight has described as “a USMC programme to develop and acquire a large cargo-carrying UAV”. Its selection has demonstrated the drone’s role in helping to transform military logistics and enhance the USMC’s operational capabilities.

Having leveraged the proven platform of the UH-72A, the USMC is finding that the LC’s ability to integrate autonomous systems and transport substantial payloads will likely see it remain a vital asset in military operations for many years.

More information on the Light Utility Transformative Vertical Lift (TVL)/Large ULS-A programmes can be found here.

Shephard's Eurosatory 2024 coverage is sponsored by:

BAE Systems

Large ULS-A / Aerial Logistics Connector (ALC) [USMC]

H145

Matty Todhunter

Author

Matty Todhunter


Matty Todhunter is the Senior UAS Analyst for Shephard Media's Defence Insight. Before joining Shephard, Matty graduated …

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