31-Jul-2010 Source: EADS North America
Four U.S. Army UH-72A Lakotas arrived at the Pacific Oceanâ€™s Kwajalein Atoll June 6, marking the latest overseas assignment for the EADS North America-built Light Utility Helicopter.
These Lakotas will be used for transport and support missions at the Armyâ€™s Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site, replacing aging UH-1 helicopters. Painted in high-visibility orange, the Lakotas are equipped with skid-mounted floats with integrated life rafts and jettisonable cockpit doors.
â€œThe UH-72A Lakota is uniquely suited for forward basing in a remote location like the Kwajalein Atoll due to the aircraftâ€™s superior reliability, maintainability and operational availability rate,â€ said Col. L. Neil Thurgood, U.S. Army Utility Helicopter Project Manager.
The four UH-72As were transported by a U.S. Air Force C-17 airlifter to Kwajalein Atoll from Mississippi, where the Lakota is produced by American Eurocopter, an operating company of EADS North America.
â€œThis latest deployment is yet another strong demonstration of UH-72Aâ€™s ability to perform a full range of missions, contribute to national security and support critical warfighter readiness,â€ said EADS North America CEO Sean Oâ€™Keefe. â€œBuilding on 125 consecutive on-time deliveries to date, this challenging deployment underscores the Lakotaâ€™s global mobility, which is an operational necessity for modern military systems.â€
This is the second long-haul international deployment for the Lakota, and it follows the shipment of five UH-72As to Germany in April for operation at the U.S. Armyâ€™s Joint Multinational Readiness Center (JMRC). The JMRC helicopters will support pilot training for combat engagements, and to carry observers of war game scenarios performed against â€œaggressorâ€ aircraft. Five additional Lakotas are scheduled for delivery to the JMRC by January 2011.
The U.S. Army plans to acquire 345 UH-72As through 2016, and the service has ordered 187 of the helicopters so far â€“ including five H-72A versions acquired for the U.S. Navy.
In addition to the aircraft assigned to the Kwajalein Atoll and with the JMRC in Germany, UH-72As are operated throughout the United States and in Puerto Rico by active duty Army and Army National Guard units. They are used for missions that include medical evacuation (MEDEVAC), search and rescue, drug interdiction, VIP transport and general aviation support.
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 warfighting missions.
To date, EADS North America has delivered 125 UH-72As, all of which have been provided on time and on budget. The in-service UH-72A fleet has logged more than 35,000 flight hours at an operational readiness rate greater than 90 percent.
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.
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.