5-Mar-2010 Source: EADS North America
Arlington, Virginia and Columbus, Mississippi, March 04, 2010
Latest milestone marks another accomplishment for one of the most successful acquisition programs in U.S. Army aviation history
EADS North America delivered its 100th UH-72A Lakota Light Utility Helicopter to the U.S. Army today, marking another on-time and on-budget achievement for a highly successful program that supports Americaâ€™s warfighters and contributes to the nationâ€™s homeland security.
“The UH-72A Lakota program has progressed on schedule and within budget constraints,â€ said Col. L. Neil Thurgood, the U.S. Armyâ€™s Project Manager of the Utility Helicopter office. â€œThe aircraft has been well received by Army aircrews and we have maintained a remarkably high operational availability rate combined with an admirable safety record. We especially look forward to fielding even more of these capable aircraft to Army National Guard units throughout the United States,” he added.
Delivery of the 100th Lakota occurred at American Eurocopterâ€™s production facility in Columbus, Miss. where the twin-engine helicopter is produced. The American Eurocopter facility was significantly expanded to accommodate production of the Lakota, which created and supports hundreds of high-value aerospace jobs throughout the United States.
â€œDelivering on our commitments to the U.S. Army has been the industry teamâ€™s number one priority since being selected for the Lakota program in June 2006,â€ said Sean Oâ€™Keefe, EADS North Americaâ€™s CEO. â€œOur performance of 100 percent on-time deliveries reflects an unwavering commitment to fully support our customersâ€™ current and future needs.â€
The 100th Lakota aircraft will be deployed to Germany with the U.S. Armyâ€™s Joint Multinational Readiness Center (JMRC) â€“ becoming part of this unitâ€™s Combat Training Center and further expanding the Lakotaâ€™s mission applications.
â€œWhen EADS North America and American Eurocopter decided to invest in Mississippi several years ago â€“ Mississippians made a commitment to help these companies succeed. When the Army chose EADS North America to supply the UH-72A Lakota, EADS made a commitment to help the warfighter succeed. Today the 100th Lakota helicopter is evidence of that commitment,â€ said Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour. â€œIâ€™m extremely proud of the work they do to support Americaâ€™s men and women in uniform.â€
The U.S. Army plans to acquire 345 Lakotas through 2016, and the service has ordered 182 of the helicopters so far, along with five H-72A versions for the U.S. Navy. Aircraft already delivered to the Army are used in missions that include medical evacuation (MEDEVAC), search and rescue, drug interdiction, VIP transport and support â€“ with the in-service UH-72A fleet logging more than 25,000 flight hours to date at an operational readiness rate of more than 90 percent. The Navyâ€™s five H-72A versions are utilized by the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Md., for the training of test pilots from the U.S. military and allied countries.
â€œThe UH-72A Lakota program is crucial to modernizing the U.S. Armyâ€™s aviation assets, and the delivery of the 100th Lakota helicopter to the Army is a significant accomplishment for the Mississippians who build these capable aircraft in the Golden Triangle,â€ commented Sen. Thad Cochran, the ranking member of the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. â€œThis achievement proves that off-the-shelf commercial air frames can be successfully adapted for military applications at a lower cost to the taxpayer. It also reflects well on our stateâ€™s industrial capabilities and our ability to support the Armed Forces.â€
The UH-72A is a Defense Acquisition Category (ACAT) I major defense acquisition program for the U.S. Defense Department, and the Lakotaâ€™s service entry in 2007 marked one of the most rapid introductions of a new aircraft in the U.S. Armyâ€™s history. Deliveries of the aircraft to National Guard units allow aging OH-58 and UH-1 rotary-wing aircraft to be retired, while UH-72As assigned to the active component of the U.S. Army free up UH-60 Black Hawks for assignment to warfighting missions.
â€œTime and again, Mississippi workers have answered the call and produced the tools our military needs to keep our country safe,â€ commented Sen. Roger Wicker. â€œThe Lakota has made a substantial contribution to this important effort. The Lakota program has been delivered on time and on budget. This is a testament to the men and women who build these helicopters, as well as to the Army and EADS North America.â€
The Lakotasâ€™ current basing across the continental United States and in Puerto Rico will be expanded during the coming months â€“ along with the missions they perform â€“ as Lakotas are deployed to Germany and the Kwajalein Atoll in the Pacific.
â€œItâ€™s a privilege to represent the workforce that has successfully built and delivered 100 Lakota helicopters to the U.S. Army on schedule and on budget,â€ said Mississippi Rep. Travis Childers. â€œThis program represents the hard work and dedication of hundreds of Mississippians, and I commend EADS for its commitment to our national security.â€
For their service in Germany at the Joint Multinational Training Command, the helicopters will be used to train pilots in combat engagements, and are to carry equipment that includes a Multiple Integrated Laser Engagement System (MILES), a SMart On-Board Data Interface Module (SMODIM), and an electronic data manager.
When deployed to the Pacific Oceanâ€™s Kwajalein Atoll, the UH-72As will perform transport and support duties. They are to be painted in a high-visibility orange color scheme and outfitted with skid-mounted floats, a life raft and jettisonable cockpit doors for rapid egress.
Production of the UH-72A averages three to four helicopters per month at the Columbus, Miss. production site, which is operated by EADS North Americaâ€™s American Eurocopter business unit. The 220,000 square foot facility, located adjacent to the Golden Triangle Regional Airport, is capable of producing up to five aircraft a month. The company continues to meet its goal of creating new job opportunities in the region, with total employment reaching 250 employees as the UH-72A program attains full rate production.
For additional information on the UH-72A Lakota, see the dedicated website at: www.uh-72a.com
About EADS North America
EADS North America is the North American operation of EADS, a global leader in aerospace, defense and related services. As a leader in all sectors of defense and homeland security, EADS North America and its parent company, EADS, contribute over $11 billion to the U.S. economy annually and support more than 200,000 American jobs through its network of suppliers and services. Operating in 17 states, EADS North America offers a broad array of advanced solutions to its customers in the commercial, homeland security, aerospace and defense markets.