U.S. Representatives Joe Barton and Marc Veasey joined leaders of American Eurocopter, EADS North America and Turbomeca at a rally Friday to call on Congress to restore funding for the Army’s UH-72A Lakota helicopter in the Fiscal Year 2014 budget.
The rally took place at EADS North America’s American Eurocopter facility in Grand Prairie, Texas, where more than 600 Texans work. American Eurocopter performs all engineering changes for Lakota modifications and upgrades in Grand Prairie, and also trains Lakota pilots and maintainers from the Army, Army National Guard and Navy.
The Lakota is manufactured by American Eurocopter in Columbus, Miss., by a 300-person workforce that is more than 50 percent U.S. military veterans.
Proposed cuts in the 2014 budget submitted to Congress in April would reduce production of the Lakota in 2014-2015 by 31 fewer aircraft than the Army planned to buy. These cuts, which would result in negligible savings, would effectively end Lakota production by the end of 2014 and endanger the jobs of hundreds of American workers.
Every one of the 267 Lakota helicopters delivered to date has been on time and on budget. The Lakota has been cited by the U.S. Department of Defense as a model defense acquisition program and is one of the most successful, cost-effective aircraft procurement programs in history.
“The Lakota has been a great helicopter for the U.S. Army. Far too many projects are completed over budget and past deadline but the Lakota program has proved to be consistent and effective,” said Rep. Barton, who serves Texas’ Sixth Congressional District. “Much of that success is because of the hard work and expertise of those in the Great State of Texas and particularly the Sixth District.
“I am working with my colleagues in the House to have a study conducted to find additional ways the Lakota can be used to protect both the budget and the security of our nation,” Barton said.“I am hopeful my proposal for a study will be included in the final version of the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act.”
“The Lakota helicopter program is critically important to the country’s national security and in this time of severe budget cuts, must be protected,” said Rep. Veasey, who represents Texas’ 33rd Congressional District. “These cuts are hurtful and damaging – they hurt families who rely on these jobs and DFW businesses that work with the program.
“As a Member of the House Armed Services Committee, I am proud to show my support for this program and will keep pushing for its continued production,” said Rep. Veasey. “Proposed cuts to the Lakota program are a misguided attempt to find savings in a way that would cost the Metroplex severe job loss and economic revenue.”
The Army, National Guard and Navy have applauded the capabilities of the Lakota, which is used for missions including border security, search and rescue, medical evacuation, transport and pilot training. National Guard crews have praised the aircraft’s performance in missions flown on the U.S.-Mexico border conducting surveillance for drug and human trafficking.
“The Lakota costs significantly less to purchase, own and operate than any other aircraft available to do the mission,” said Sean O’Keefe, EADS North America Chairman and CEO. “It is fully meeting the requirements of the Army and National Guard, and it can easily and affordably be modified to serve in a wider range of missions, whether in peacetime or deployed into combat zones.”
“Our customer, the U.S. Army, is pleased with our work,” said Marc Paganini, President and Chief Executive of American Eurocopter. “We have provided an aircraft that performs every day with a more than 90 percent availability rate. That is unheard of across other Army aviation platforms. Our employees have performed outstanding work equipping the men and women of the U.S. military with the best aircraft possible.”
“The jobs of many of Turbomeca’s 600-plus employees, both in Grand Prairie and at our manufacturing plant in Monroe, N.C., are tied to this aircraft program,” said Russ Spray, President and Chief Executive of Turbomeca USA, the engine supplier for the Lakota. “The Lakota program is important economic stimulus in the U.S., but it also provides the U.S. armed forces with a versatile and needed aircraft.”
About American Eurocopter
American Eurocopter is a helicopter manufacturer that produces, markets, sells and supports the broadest range of civil and para-public helicopters offered by any manufacturer in the United States. The company is a subsidiary of EADS North America Holdings, the North American operations of EADS, a global leader in aerospace, defense and related services, and is an affiliate of Eurocopter, the largest helicopter manufacturer in the world. American Eurocopter’s product line represents the most cost-effective, technologically-advanced helicopters, ranging from light single to heavy twin, serving all markets and missions. Company headquarters and main facilities are located in Grand Prairie, Texas, with a large manufacturing and production facility in Columbus, Miss., that produces the UH-72A for the U.S. Army’s Light Utility Helicopter program.
About EADS North America
EADS North America is the U.S.-based operation of EADS, a global leader in aerospace, defense, and related services. EADS contributes more than $14 billion to the U.S. economy annually and supports over 225,000 American jobs through its network of suppliers. EADS North America, headquartered in Herndon, Va., offers a broad array of advanced solutions to meet U.S. military and commercial requirements, including fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft,homeland security systems, public safety communications, defense electronics and avionics, and threat detection systems.
EADS is a global leader in aerospace, defense and related services. In 2012, the Group – comprising Airbus, Astrium, Cassidian and Eurocopter – generated revenues of € 56.5 billion and employed a workforce of over 140,000.
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