9-Nov-2011 Source: EADS North America
EADS North America’s first UH-72A Lakota Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) equipped with the Security and Support (S&S) Battalion Mission Equipment Package (MEP) has entered operational service with the Mississippi National Guard’s Company C, 1st of the 114th Security and Support Battalion.
This first S&S Battalion UH-72A Lakota was built and retrofitted in Columbus, Miss. by the company’s American Eurocopter business unit. The UH-72A Lakota is one of the U.S. Army’s most successful acquisition programs and is repeatedly recognized by DoD officials for its on-time and on-budget deliveries.
“This new configuration provides a significant capability increase for the Army National Guard and the federal, state and local government agencies they support,” said Sean O’Keefe, CEO of EADS North America. “The S&S Battalion MEP expands the capabilities of the Army’s UH-72A Lakota, and further demonstrates this modern platform’s flexibility for growth to support a broader range of demanding mission requirements.”
The S&S Battalion MEP is the latest operational evolution of the UH-72A Lakota and provides National Guard units with the ability to seamlessly interface with and support federal, state and local law enforcement and first responders during disasters or emergencies.
The mission equipment package includes an electro-optical infrared sensor with a five-mile range that provides still imagery and real-time streaming video to ground stations or command centers, while an onboard computer can archive the footage for later use by law enforcement. Mission performance is augmented with enhanced radios, touch-screen monitors, GPS with street address capability and a 30 million candle power search light.
Lakotas equipped with the S&S Battalion MEP will be operated by Army National Guard units across the country and will soon enter operational service with units in Louisiana, Florida and North Carolina. Currently 69 of the 100 anticipated S&S Battalion MEP installations are on contract. Fifty-two of the 68 S&S Lakota’s on contract will be built with the MEP integrated during production, and 16 Lakotas already in service with the Army National Guard will be retrofitted at the company’s American Eurocopter facility in Columbus, Miss. In addition, the S&S MEP prototype was delivered and fielded to the National Guard unit in Tupelo, Miss
UH-72A Lakotas are operating from 33 locations in the continental U.S., Puerto Rico, Germany and the Kwajalein Atoll. The U.S. Army has ordered 232 UH-72As to date out of a total program of 345 helicopters through 2015. To date 196 aircraft have been delivered to the Department of Defense, including five for the U.S. Navy Test Pilot School.
The U.S. Army is using UH-72A Lakotas in multiple configurations to fulfill a range of missions, including medical evacuation, search and rescue operations, homeland security, VIP transport, disaster response and relief, general aviation support, combat flight training and pilot sustainment training.
In addition to the UH-72A Lakota aircraft, EADS North America also provides the Army with FAA-certified flight and maintainer training. More than 600 pilots and nearly 400 maintenance personnel have completed classes at American Eurocopter’s headquarters facility in Grand Prairie, Texas. The Lakota program also includes full and hybrid contractor logistics support to the Army and Army National Guard, and modifications and retrofit of mission equipment packages onto existing aircraft.
The UH-72A Lakota is a Defense Acquisition Category (ACAT) I major defense acquisition program. Deliveries of the aircraft to the Army and Army National Guard allow aging OH-58 and UH-1 rotary-wing aircraft to be retired, while freeing up UH-60 Black Hawks for assignment to combat missions.