The U.S. Army’s fleet of 219 UH-72A Lakota helicopters surpassed the 100,000 flight hour milestone during operations on May 10. The 100,000 flight hour aircraft, configured for Opposing Force training missions, was flown by Chief Warrant Officer 3 Jason Lacrosse and Chief Warrant Officer 4 Christopher Ezell of the Joint Multinational Readiness Center’s Falcon Observer/Controller-Trainer Team in Hohenfels, Germany, during a multinational training exercise.
The Army’s fleet of Lakota helicopters, built by the company’s American Eurocopter business unit in Columbus, Miss., have been in operation since November 2006 with all 219 helicopters to date delivered on schedule and within budget. The Army’s requirement is 345 Lakotas through 2016. An additional five aircraft have been delivered to the U.S. Navy for test pilot training.
â€•Achieving 100,000 flight hours in just five-and-a-half years and remaining on schedule and on cost is an extraordinary accomplishment for a major defense acquisition program,â€– said Col. Thomas Todd, the Army’s Utility Helicopter Project Manager.
â€•Over the past seven years, the Lakota program has been a model of program execution, and this latest flight milestone reinforces the reliability and solid performance of the UH-72A,â€– said Sean O’Keefe, EADS North America Chairman and CEO. â€•Our entire industry team takes great pride in delivering a fleet of aircraft with an extremely high operational availability rate, mission flexibility and extraordinary reliability. The program’s success is built on a very strong partnership with the Army program office.â€–
The 100,000 flight hour milestone reflects the structure and execution of the Lakota program’s logistics concept. A combination of full contractor logistics support (CLS) and hybrid CLS enables the Army and Army National Guard to operate the aircraft in accordance with their flying hour plan. The Army program office, military units, and the industry team of EADS North America, American Eurocopter and Helicopter Support International has provided tailored program logistics to the Army and Army National Guard since 2006.
The Lakota fleet has averaged an operational availability rate greater than 90 percent for locations with the full contractor logistics (CLS) support, encompassing 18 different military units. The hybrid CLS is equally successful with a parts support fill rate exceeding 95 percent. These metrics are 10 percent higher than the program’s contractual requirements.
The latest evolution of the Lakota is delivered in the Security and Support (S&S) Battalion Mission Equipment Package configuration for the Army National Guard, which is currently using numerous S&S Lakotas along the U.S. Southwest border, flying 1,500 hours in the first three months of operation.
The S&S MEP contains a centerline electro-optical infrared (EO/IR) sensor, a 30 million candlepower search light, analog/digital video downlink, rear observer’s console with a 15-inch display, an enhanced tactical communications suite, an onboard digital video recorder, 10.4-inch auxiliary displays for the pilot and copilot, and a video management system.
The UH-72A is a Defense Acquisition Category (ACAT) 1C major defense acquisition program for the U.S. Defense Department, and it marked one of the most rapid introductions of a new aircraft in the U.S. Army’s history. Deliveries of the UH-72A to National Guard and Active Component units allow aging OH-58 and UH-1 rotary-wing aircraft to be retired and allow UH-60 Black Hawks to be returned to combat operations.
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