DH - Defence Helicopter

EADS North America begins Lakota deliveries DC National Guard

13th March 2009 - 12:30 GMT | by The Shephard News Team

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EADS North America today delivered the initial three UH-72A Lakota Light Utility Helicopters to the District of Columbia National Guard, providing new-generation aircraft for a range of aviation support missions in the nation’s capital area.

These helicopters were accepted during a ceremony at the Washington, D.C. Armory, and are the first of 16 Lakotas to be operated in the region. The D.C. National Guard will receive a total of eight UH-72As, with a similar number assigned to the Military District of Washington. All 16 will be based at Fort Belvoir in Virginia, and are capable of operating from this Army facility as well as from the Washington, D.C. Armory.

“We’re extremely proud of every UH-72A Lakota we deliver to the U.S. Army, but it will be especially rewarding to see our aircraft supporting the men and women who protect our nation’s capital,” said Ralph D. Crosby, Jr., EADS North America’s chairman and CEO. “The Lakota is the most capable light utility helicopter in the world today – built here in the United States, and being delivered on time, on budget and on performance.”

The UH-72A is based on Eurocopter’s EC-145 multi-role helicopter. As part of EADS North America’s expansion of the company’s U.S. industrial presence, a full-scale Lakota production capability has been established at the Columbus, Miss. facility of its American Eurocopter business unit – generating high-value jobs in the United States.

The D.C. National Guard Lakotas are multi-mission aircraft with provisions for medical evacuation – providing the capability to carry NATO-standard litters.

“These new aircraft will greatly enhance our ability to fulfill our mission in the nation’s capital,” said Army Maj. Gen. Errol R. Schwartz, commanding general of the District of Columbia National Guard. “Aviation assets like the UH-72A provide increased capability and flexibility across a wide variety of mission requirements as we support and protect both the residents and government functions in the District.”

EADS North America is supplying the Lakota under U.S. Army contract, with 128 aircraft currently on order and more than 50 delivered to date to Army and National Guard units. Nearly 10,000 flight hours have been logged by UH-72As in service from bases across the country – including the Eastern Army National Guard Aviation Training Site in Fort Indiantown Gap, Pa.; Fort Eustis and Fort Belvoir, Va.; Fort Polk, La.; Fort Irwin, Calif.; Jacksonville, Fla.; Morrisville, N.C.; Pineville, La.; Tupelo, Miss.; and the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y.

The Army expects to acquire a total of 345 Lakotas through 2016 for use on missions that vary from homeland security and medical evacuation to drug interdiction, support and logistics operations. Additionally, five Light Utility Helicopters have been ordered by the U.S. Navy for pilot training at the Naval Test Pilot School at Patuxent River, Md.

UH-72A U.S. production averages three to four helicopters per month – with the capability of reaching five aircraft monthly at the Columbus production site. This state-of-the-art installation is a 220,000 sq. ft. addition to American Eurocopter’s Mississippi rotary-wing aircraft center of excellence, which is located adjacent to the Golden Triangle Regional Airport. The facility has met its goal of creating new job opportunities in the region, with total employment planned to surpass 200 as the UH-72A program reaches its full production and final assembly capability.

For additional information on the UH-72A, visit the program website: www.UH-72A

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