The Maryland Army National Guard introduced their new helicopter during an orientation event conducted at Camp Fretterd Military Reservation near Reisterstown, Md., April 18.
The event gave service members and the media the opportunity to learn about the capabilities of the new UH-72A â€˜Lakotaâ€™ helicopter and what benefits it brings to the Maryland Army National Guard Aviation Security and Support Battalion.
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Renonzo Belcher, instructor pilot, explained that the new aircraft is an upgrade from the OH-58A â€˜Kiowaâ€™ aircraft that it will be replacing.Â He said that the Lakota is capable of carrying more personnel and equipment than the older aircraft, has a longer flying time, can fly in more adverse weather conditions, and has a twin engine compared to the single engine of the Kiowa.Â The new aircraft is also more cost effective to fly and maintain than the UH-60 Blackhawk.
â€œThis one has a lot more capabilities than the Kiowa. â€¦ The technology is much better,â€ added Belcher.
The Lakota will be used for multiple missions in Maryland to include assisting law enforcement agencies with drug interdiction through the Maryland National Guard Counterdrug Program; transportation and general aviation support; and assistance during state emergencies and natural disasters.
Belcher explained that once the aircraft is fully outfitted with the Mission Equipment Package, it will include an external hoist that will be able to hold up to 600 pounds; a 30 million candlepower spotlight that will be used to assist in nighttime searches; a Forward Looking Infrared camera that uses the detection of infrared radiation generated by a heat source to create a picture; an advanced map system; and an enhanced intercommunication system.
The Maryland Army National Guard received the first Lakota helicopter April 6, and is scheduled to receive three more throughout April and May.Â Two of these aircraft will include the MEP and two will remain â€˜slick,â€™ without the package.
Two of the assigned aircraft will also participate in a deployment to Texas, June 1 through Dec. 31, along with members of the Maryland Army National Guard, providing assistance to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency with surveillance support along the Southwest Border.
â€œThis is the first time in many years that weâ€™ve received new aircraft in Maryland,â€ said Maj. Gen. James Adkins, adjutant general of Maryland. â€œItâ€™s a state of the art aircraft for … state of the art pilots.â€
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