ARLINGTON, VA – EADS North America has received a contract from the U.S. Army for 39 additional UH-72A Lakota Light Utility Helicopters, extending production under contract of the twin-engine rotary-wing aircraft through 2010.
This latest acquisition, valued at $207.7 million, brings the total number of UH-72As ordered by the Army to 123. The contract modification includes the additional 39 production aircraft, mission kits to equip some of the Lakotas for medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) and VIP logistics operations, along with pilot, maintenance and procedural training. The Army plans to acquire 345 Light Utility Helicopters through 2016, with missions ranging from homeland security to drug interdiction, support and logistics flights.
The UH-72A is based on Eurocopter’s EC145 multi-role helicopter, which has been proven worldwide for use in law enforcement, paramilitary and security agencies, as well as emergency medical service providers, offshore operators and private corporations. Production of the UH-72A is performed at the Golden Triangle Regional Airport in Columbus, MS, under the management of American Eurocopter, an EADS North America business unit.
"EADS North America will continue to meet – and exceed – the company’s commitments in providing a helicopter that is vital to the Army’s rotary-wing fleet modernization," says EADS North America Chairman and CEO Ralph D. Crosby Jr. "Our UH-72A deliveries to date have been on time or ahead of schedule, and we are pleased that the Lakota has become a benchmark example of a well-managed military aircraft program."
The new order will continue EADS North America’s sustained production and delivery rates for the Lakota, which is averaging three to four helicopters per month – with the capability of reaching five aircraft monthly.
Lakotas first entered service in 2007, marking one of the most rapid introductions of a new aircraft in the U.S. Army’s history. Forty-nine UH-72As have been delivered to Army and National Guard units and are in service with units in California, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Virginia, and Pennsylvania.
The Lakota has attracted interest from other U.S. military services – including the U.S. Navy which ordered five additional UH-72As through the Army contract for use in pilot training at the Naval Test Pilot School at Patuxent River, MD.
In addition to their continental U.S. basing assignments, overseas deployments of UH-72As are anticipated for the U.S. Army in Europe, Japan and the Pacific region. The UH-72A’s phase-in enables aging National Guard OH-58 and UH-1 rotary-wing aircraft to be retired, while Lakota deliveries to the active component of the Army free up UH-60 Black Hawks for assignment to warfighting missions.
As part of EADS North America’s expansion of its U.S. industrial presence, the company has established a full-scale production facility for the Lakota in Columbus, MS. The Light Utility Helicopter’s production facility is a 220,000-square-foot state-of-the-art addition to American Eurocopter’s rotary-wing aircraft center of excellence in Columbus. The total number of employees in Columbus will surpass 200 as UH-72A production is fully transferred to the facility.
In its basic configuration, the UH-72A is operated by a crew of two pilots and accommodates six passengers. The helicopter carries VHF/UHF radios for military and inter-agency communications with emergency and first responder personnel. Some UH-72A Lakota’s are delivered in MEDEVAC or VIP transport configurations to meet specific mission requirements. Other mission-specific systems may be incorporated on Lakotas, including an Army National Guard equipment package consisting of a forward-looking infrared sensor (FLIR), searchlight, digital map and air-ground data link.
For more information visit www.eadsnorthamerica.com.