The Oregon Army National Guard’s Detachment 1, C Company, 1-112 Aviation received the first of four new UH-72A Lakota helicopters during a roll-out ceremony at Camp Rilea in Warrenton, Ore., Sept. 22. Three more are expected to arrive in November.
The Lakota is the Army’s newest light utility helicopter and is replacing the OH-58 Kiowa helicopter. The Lakota will be used in support of homeland security, search and rescue, emergency response, and counter-drug enforcement missions.
“It’s not just a replacement, it’s a significant improvement in capacity, endurance, and capability,” said Maj. Gen. Raymond F. Rees, adjutant general, Oregon, during the ceremony.
Rees signed for the new aircraft and received the log book and keys from Lt. Gen. William E. Ingram Jr., director of the Army National Guard, and Ted Mickevicius, vice president of Homeland Security and National Guard/Reserve Programs for EADS North America, the manufacturers of the aircraft.
“It’s a perfect airframe for the purpose that we use it for; counter-drug and domestic response,” said Ingram, as he addressed the audience at the ceremony. “It has a wonderful Mission Equipment Package that allows you to do some things that you really couldn’t do before, especially when working with our partners in the civilian community.”
Two of the four Lakotas the Oregon National Guard is receiving will be equipped with the Security and Support Mission Equipment Package. A state-of-the-art GPS navigation system will also allow pilots to navigate to a precise location using both street addresses and grid coordinates. The communications system allows aviators to communicate on multiple frequencies simultaneously, military as well as police, fire and other first responder frequencies.
“That equipment allows you to do some things that you really couldn’t do before, especially when working with our partners in the civilian community,” said Ingram.
Ingram said the Army National Guard is fielding more than 200 Lakotas nationwide. He said the aircraft has greatly improved operations on the Southwest Border.
State Representative Deborah Boone (D-Canon Beach) also attended the ceremony and was excited about the possibilities the new aircraft brings to Oregon communities in disaster response and aiding law enforcement agencies.
“The sheriff’s department in this county is going to love this,” she said. “It’s going to really make our work easier.”
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