EADS North America delivered the milestone 200th UH-72A Lakota Light Utility Helicopter on March 1 in a ceremony at its facility in Columbus, Mississippi.
EADS North America delivered the 200th UH-72A Lakota Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) on March 1 to the US Army during a ceremony at the company’s American Eurocopter production facility in Columbus, Mississippi.
“Today marks another significant milestone for the Lakota programme – the only DoD programme of this size and scope to remain 100 percent on schedule and on budget,” said Sean O’Keefe, EADS North America Chairman and CEO. “The success of this programme stems from the strong partnership we’ve built with the Department of Defense and the Army over the past seven years.”
The 200th Lakota helicopter is the first production aircraft to be delivered with the new Security and Support (S&S) Battalion Mission Equipment Package (MEP). Lakotas are produced at the company’s American Eurocopter facility in Columbus, Mississippi, which is the same facility where the initial S&S Battalion Lakotas were retrofitted.
“The S&S Battalion-equipped Lakotas further demonstrate this proven platform’s ability for growth to support a much broader range of demanding missions, to ultimately include armed scout missions,” O’Keefe said.
The Lakotas equipped with the S&S Battalion MEP will be operated by Army National Guard units across the country. The enhanced capability provided by the MEP enables these units to seamlessly support state and local law enforcement and federal homeland security agencies in responding to natural disasters, law enforcement and border security operations.
Currently, 52 Lakotas will be produced in the Army’s S&S Battalion configuration, in addition to 16 that are being retrofitted to this configuration. The total anticipated number of S&S Battalion Lakotas will grow to 99 aircraft. EADS North America has now delivered 200 UH-72A Lakotas to the US Army, on time and within budget, along with five H-72A versions to the US Navy for test pilot training.
The S&S Battalion MEP, integrated by American Eurocopter, will expand the capabilities of the Army’s UH-72A Lakota Light Utility Helicopters, and reflects the platform’s adaptability for an increasing number of missions. The current total programme of record calls for 346 UH-72A Lakotas to be delivered to the Army and Army National Guard through to 2016, along with the five already delivered to the US Navy.
The S&S Battalion MEP was integrated and tested at American Eurocopter’s Grand Prairie, Texas, facility. The S&S MEP contains a centreline electro-optical infrared (EO/IR) sensor, a 30 million candle power search light, analogue/digital video downlink, rear observer’s console with a 15in (38cm) display, an enhanced tactical communications suite, an onboard digital video recorder, 10½in (26.5cm) auxiliary displays for the pilot and co-pilot, and a video management system.
The UH-72A is a Defense Acquisition Category (ACAT) I major defense acquisition programme for the US Defense Department and it marked one of the most rapid introductions of a new aircraft in the US Army’s history. Deliveries of the aircraft to National Guard units allow aging OH-58s and UH-1s to be retired, while UH-72As assigned to the active component of the US Army replace UH-60 Black Hawks.