Airbus Group said Wednesday it delivered the Army’s the service’s 300th UH-72A Lakota helicopter, on time and on schedule.
Army Project Manager for Utility Aircraft Col. Thomas Todd accepted delivery: “Airbus has an established record of on time or ahead of schedule aircraft deliveries.Their Columbus (Miss.) facility has recorded a nine year record of excellence.”
Airbus Group Photo by James Darcy
This Lakota will serve with the Missouri National Guard. The aircraft was delivered in the Security and Support (S&S) Battalion configuration, which expands the UH-72A’s capabilities for missions ranging from disaster response to border security operations
Since the 2006 UH-72A contract award, the company has delivered the Lakota in seven different configurations for missions including training, border security, search and rescue, medical evacuation, disaster response, VIP transport and range support.
Five aircraft are also in service with the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School, which trains Navy, Marine Corps and Army test pilots.
In the fiscal year 2015 budget, the Army’s aviation reorganization indicates plans to modernize the service training fleet using the twin engine UH-72A. Congress has yet to weigh in via the authorization or appropriation bills now slowly making their way through the process.
“The Lakota was competitively selected eight years ago because it was an easily adaptable solution for a broad range of mission requirements, with a low-risk design that allowed the Army to save taxpayers millions in development costs,” said Airbus Group Inc. Chairman and CEO Allan McArtor. “Industry should be in the business of enabling and supporting that kind of smart decision-making for our customer.”
McArtor oversees the operations and strategy of all Airbus Group companies in the United States.
Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant praised the partnership that the state has formed with Airbus Group in delivering a critical capability to the U.S. military. “Almost a decade ago, Airbus made an investment in Mississippi and its people, raising a world-class aerospace manufacturing facility out of a green field. That investment has paid off not just for the company, but for the men and women of the Army and for the Mississippi families who are positively affected by the company’s presence in our state.”
The Lakota is manufactured at Airbus Helicopters Inc. facility in Columbus, Miss., where more than half the workforce consists of military veterans.
Members of Congress also attended and spoke at the delivery ceremony, lauding the aircraft and the workforce: Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.), chairman of the House Committee on Veteran’s Affairs; Rep. Alan Nunnelee (R-Miss.); and Rep. Gregg Harper (R-Miss.).
The UH-72A has a baseline unit cost of $5.5 million, the lowest cost to buy, own and operate of any U.S. military helicopter in production, the company said in a statement. The Lakota fleet recently passed the 200,000 flight hour milestone, and it maintains greater than 90 percent availability with full contractor logistics support.
The S&S configuration on the 300th Lakota includes an electro-optical and infrared sensor, searchlight, digital video recorder, secure data downlink and moving map. Lakotas equipped in the S&S configuration are serving with Army National Guard units across the country, including extensive operations along the U.S. southwest border for border security and drug interdiction.