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South Dakota Army National Guard accepts first UH-72A

17th May 2011 - 15:44 by the Shephard News Team

The South Dakota Army National Guard has taken delivery of its first UH-72A Lakota Light Utility Helicopters (LUH) from American Eurocopter.

Delivered by the EADS subsidiary on 15 May, the aircraft is the first of six ordered for the South Dakota National Guard, having arrived ‘on time and on budget’. Four of the Lakotas will be configured for medevac operations, and the other two for security and support (S&S) battalions.

‘The US Army is using its Lakotas in multiple configurations for medical evacuation missions, search and rescue duties, border patrols along the US/Mexican border, VIP transport, general aviation support and in combat flight training,’ an EADS statement said.

EADS has delivered 167 Lakotas since 2006, and a total of 32 Lakotas have been ordered by the US Army in FY2011 so far, which will see the programme through to 2012. According to EADS, the US Army and Navy together aim to acquire 350 of the aircraft by 2015.

The UH-72A is manufactured at the American Eurocopter facility at the Golden Triangle Regional Airport in Columbus, Mississippi, and it operates from 31 basing locations following the establishment of 10 new fielding sites in 2010.

The aircraft is the military version of the Eurocopter EC-145, and was selected as the winner of the army’s LUH competition to replace the UH-1H Hueys and OH-58 Kiowas in 2006.

On 3 May the Lakota helped successfully rescue six boy scouts and two adults who were stranded as a result of a flooding in Ouachita National Forest, southwest Arkansas. The aircraft was flown by the Arkansas Army National Guard, who rescued the stranded individuals from difficult terrain and harsh weather that had left them inaccessible by ground.

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