EADS Reports Deliveries Running Ahead of Schedule
The US Army has equipped its first operational unit with EADS
North America's UH-72A Lakota Light Utility Helicopter in one of
the most rapid introductions of a new aircraft in the service's
This milestone was reached when the National Training Center Air
Ambulance Detachment in Ft. Irwin, CA received its sixth Lakota,
which occurred less than 11 months after the contract was awarded
in June 2006.
"Achieving this key program milestone so rapidly reflects the
success of our partnership with the Army, the quality of the UH-72A
and our focus on program performance -- all essential elements in
meeting EADS' commitment to our men and women in uniform," said
Ralph D. Crosby, Jr., EADS North America's Chairman and CEO.
The milestone followed Full Material Release (FMR) authorization
from the Army's Aviation and Missile Command (AMCOM), confirming
that the UH-72A and its production system are ready to support the
Light Utility Helicopter mission. According to Army program
officials, FMR was granted at the initial request -- a first in
AMCOM history for an Army aviation system, according to the
"This is a landmark event for Army Aviation because we are
getting a much needed aircraft to the field in record time," said
Keith Roberson, deputy manager for the Army's utility helicopter
program at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama, in earlier
public comments to the media.
EADS North America has supplied seven UH-72As to the Army at the
rate of one aircraft per month. In September, deliveries will
increase to two per month, ultimately reaching five per month in
The UH-72A is supplied by EADS North America's American
Eurocopter business unit at Columbus, MS. Currently, seven
additional UH-72As are in various stages of preparation and
customization at the Columbus facility, which is situated adjacent
to the Golden Triangle Regional Airport.
A major expansion of American Eurocopter's Columbus plant is
ahead of schedule for completion in September, and includes new
buildings for the Lakota's assembly hall, flight line and storage
area, paint shop, warehouse, administrative offices, flight
operations and flight test engineering.
The Army has a requirement for up to 322 UH-72As in a 10-year
program with a total life-cycle value of over $2 billion. To date,
the Army has ordered a total of 42 UH-72As from EADS North America,
along with the associated training services for pilots and
maintenance personnel, external hoist kits, and MEDEVAC
UH-72As will be used primarily within the US for homeland
security operations, medical evacuation, passenger/logistics
transportation and drug interdiction missions. Many of them will be
assigned to Army National Guard units in locations throughout the
country, allowing older-generation helicopters to be retired and
freeing up larger rotary-wing aircraft for assignment to other
duties -- including deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan.