COLUMBUS, Miss. EADS North America delivered the 50th UH-72A Lakota Light Utility Helicopter to the U.S. Army today. This delivery marks another on-time milestone in the acquisition and fielding of the UH-72A to satisfy the Army’s Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) program.The 50th and 51st UH-72As, were delivered to the Eastern Army Aviation Training Site (EAATS) at the American Eurocopter facility in Columbus, Miss. where the Light Utility Helicopter, based on Eurocopter’s EC145, is built. Based in Fort Indiantown Gap, Pa., the EAATS may operate as many as 18 UH-72As in the qualification of Army and Army National Guard aviators on the new LUH. These were the third and fourth Lakotas provided to the EAATS unit which received its initial two UH-72As in June and July, 2008.“The assignment of the 50th aircraft to the Army National Guard is significant because the Guard will be the primary operator of UH-72As within the U.S. Army,” said Ralph D. Crosby, Jr., the chairman and CEO of EADS North America. “We are proud to be a partner with the Army in modernizing its rotary-wing fleet. The primary goal of EADS North America is to continue meeting – and exceeding – our commitments on this key program.”The UH-72A first entered service in 2007, and deliveries to date have provided aircraft to Army and Army National Guard units in California, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Virginia and Pennsylvania. Army plans call for the acquisition of 345 Lakotas through 2016. With the Army’s recent order of 39 aircraft, the count has now reached 123 UH-72As. The UH-72A is used for missions ranging from homeland security and drug interdiction, to support, logistics and medical evacuation flights (MEDEVAC).Introduction of the UH-72A enables aging Army National Guard OH-58 and UH-1 rotary-wing aircraft to be retired, while Lakota deliveries to the active component of the Army free up UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters for assignment to warfighting missions.The Lakota fleet has an operational availability rate of over 90 percent, with more than 7,000 flight hours accumulated so far in U.S. Army operations – demonstrating the twin-engine aircraft’s excellent performance, reliability, and successful mission execution.In addition to their continental U.S. basing assignments, overseas deployments of UH-72As are anticipated with the U.S. Army in Europe, Japan and the Pacific region.The UH-72A has attracted interest from other U.S. military services including the U.S.Navy, which ordered five additional Light Utility Helicopters through the Army contract. The Navy will use the helicopters for pilot training at the Naval Test Pilot School at Patuxent River, Md.Production of the UH-72A is averaging three to four helicopters per month – with the capability of reaching five aircraft monthly at the Mississippi production facility. The state-of-the-art production site is a 220,000 sq. ft. addition to American Eurocopter’s rotary-wing aircraft center of excellence at Columbus. The facility has brought high-value jobs into the region with total employment planned to surpass 200 as UH-72A production is fully transferred to the facility.
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