EADS North America begins deliveries of Lakota helicopters
EADS North America has achieved another significant milestone on the UH-72A Lakota Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) program with the delivery of Lakotas to the National Guard outfitted with the Security and Support (S&S) Battalion Mission Equipment Package (MEP).
The UH-72A Lakota, built in Mississippi by the company's American Eurocopter business unit, is one of the US Army's most successful acquisition programs and is repeatedly noted by DoD officials for its on-time and on-budget deliveries.
"This highly capable configuration is the latest and most significant evolution of the Lakota and the missions it is asked to perform," said Sean O'Keefe, CEO of EADS North America. "These S&S Battalion Lakotas provide our Army National Guard units with the ability to effectively respond at a moment's notice to a wide range of operational assignments including natural disasters, search and rescue operations, border protection missions and law enforcement support."
Lakotas equipped with the S&S Battalion MEP will be operated by Army National Guard units across the country. The S&S Battalion MEP will greatly expand the capabilities of the Army's UH-72A Lakota Light Utility Helicopters and further demonstrates the platform's flexibility for growth and mission-specific configurations.
Currently 68 of the 99 anticipated S&S Battalion MEP installations are on contract. Of the 68 on contract, 52 Lakotas will be built with the S&S Battalion MEP integrated during production, and 16 Lakotas already in service with the Army National Guard will be retrofitted at the company's American Eurocopter facility in Columbus, Miss.
The S&S Mission Equipment Package contains a centerline electro-optical infrared (EO/IR) sensor, a 30 million candle power search light, analog/digital video downlink, rear observers' console with a 15-inch display, an enhanced tactical communications suite, an onboard digital video recorder, 10.4-inch auxiliary displays for the pilot and co-pilot, and a video management system.
The Lakota is based on the commercially successful EC145 multi-role helicopter and was developed by EADS' Eurocopter division. As part of EADS North America's commitment to the US Army, the company's American Eurocopter business unit created a dedicated UH-72A manufacturing facility in Mississippi capable of sustained annual output of 55 Lakotas.
UH-72A Lakotas are operating from 33 locations in the continental US, Puerto Rico, Germany and the Kwajalein Atoll. The US Army has ordered 237 UH-72As to date out of a total program of 345 helicopters through 2015. To date 190 aircraft have been delivered to the Department of Defense, including five for the US Navy Test Pilot School.
The US Army is using Lakotas in multiple configurations to fulfill a range of missions, including medical evacuation, search and rescue operations, homeland security, VIP transport, disaster response and relief, general aviation support, combat flight training and pilot sustainment training. EADS North America also provides the Army with FAA-certified flight and maintainer training. More than 600 pilot and nearly 400 maintenance personnel have completed classes at American Eurocopter's headquarters facility in Grand Prairie, Texas.
The Lakota program also includes full and hybrid contractor logistics support to the Army and Army National Guard, and modifications and retrofit of mission equipment packages onto existing aircraft. The UH-72A is a Defense Acquisition Category (ACAT) I major defense acquisition program. Deliveries of the aircraft to the Army and Army National Guard allow aging OH-58 and UH-1 rotary-wing aircraft to be retired, while freeing up UH-60 Black Hawks for assignment to combat missions.
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