Mississippi Unit First To Receive UH-72As
EADS North America's first two UH-72A Lakota Light Utility
Helicopters for the US Army National Guard were formally presented
Saturday to the 1/114th Service Support Battalion, which performs
homeland security, counter-drug and other operations from its base
at Mississippi's Tupelo Regional Airport.
Army National Guard units will be the primary operators of
UH-72As, ultimately receiving 200 of the total 345 Lakotas planned
for acquisition through 2017.
"Today's UH-72A presentation to the Mississippi Army National
Guard marks an important milestone for EADS North America as we
meet - and exceed - our company's commitments to those in uniform
who protect America and ensure its national security," said David
R. Oliver, Jr., EADS North America's Executive Vice President, at
Saturday's handover ceremony.
The first two helicopters received by the Army National Guard
were the 28th and 29th UH-72As delivered by EADS North America --
all of which were provided on or ahead of schedule, EADS notes.
Previously-delivered Lakotas have been assigned to the Army's
National Training Center Air Ambulance Detachment at Ft. Irwin, CA;
the Training and Doctrine Command's flight detachment at Fort
Eustis, VA; and the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk,
The UH-72A provides a new helicopter for use in the Army
National Guard's state and national homeland security missions, and
its introduction will enable the retirement of aging OH-58 and UH-1
rotary-wing aircraft. Additionally, Lakota deliveries to the active
component of the Army will free up UH-60 Black Hawks for assignment
to warfighting missions.
EADS North America's UH-72A Lakota program represents one of the
most rapid introductions of an Army aircraft in the service's
history. The Light Utility Helicopter contract was awarded in June
2006, followed by EADS North America's startup of UH-72A deliveries
in November of the same year. As ANN reported, operational
service began in early 2007 at Ft. Irwin, and the Army issued
full-rate production authorization for the Lakota last August.
Lakota deliveries currently are averaging three to four
helicopters per month, with the capability of reaching five
aircraft monthly. In addition to their assignment to Army and Army
National Guard units in the continental United States, overseas
basing of UH-72As are anticipated for US Army units in Europe,
Japan and the Pacific.
The UH-72A is based on the EADS group's Eurocopter EC145
multi-role civilian helicopter, which is in service worldwide for
transport, medical evacuation, off-shore, law enforcement and other
EC145s are built at Eurocopter's Donauworth, Germany facility,
with UH-72A production for the US Army being handled on a second
production line at a new facility in Columbus, MS which is operated
by EADS North America's American Eurocopter business unit. This
purpose-built plant is a 220,000 sq. ft. add-on to American
Eurocopter's existing 97,000 sq. ft. helicopter assembly facility
at Columbus' Golden Triangle Regional Airport, which began
operations in 2004 with two dozen workers.
"The UH-72A program demonstrates how we are able to provide the
US military and its warfighters with a proven aircraft, built and
delivered on time in this country by American workers," said Ralph
D. Crosby, Jr., Chairman and CEO of EADS North America.