EADS North America has now delivered more than half of the planned 345 Eurocopter UH-72A Lakota Light Utility Helicopters ordered (LUH) for the US Army in October 2006. The UH-72A is based on the best-selling EC145 multi-role helicopter.
The UH-72A is a Defense Acquisition Category (ACAT) I major defence acquisition programme for the US Defense Department. Deliveries of the aircraft to National Guard units are allowing aging Hughes OH-58 and Bell UH-1 rotary-wing aircraft to be retired, while UH-72As assigned to the active component of the US Army free up UH-60 Black Hawks for assignment to combat missions.
The UH-72A Lakota is being built by the company’s American Eurocopter business unit and is considered one of the US Army’s most successful acquisition programmes. It is repeatedly noted by DoD officials for its on-time and on-budget deliveries.
“Reaching the midway point in deliveries to the Army with an unblemished record of on-time deliveries is an excellent example of our strong performance on the Lakota program,” said EADS North American CE Sean O’Keefe. “This program clearly demonstrates the company’s ability to successfully execute large programmes, in-source manufacturing to the US and create high-value American jobs, while simultaneously delivering on our on-time and on-cost commitment to our Army and Navy customers.”
As part of EADS North America’s commitment to the US Army, the company’s American Eurocopter business unit created a dedicated assembly line for UH-72As in Mississippi, and successfully completed the on-time in-sourcing of its full production activity from Germany in 2010 – with sustained output reaching 53 rotary-wing aircraft annually at the state-of-the-art facility.
Overall there have been 180 aircraft delivered to the DoD. The steady production and delivery represents the rapid success in establishing a world-class production facility, recruiting and training the technical professionals who build the aircraft and the suppliers in the US and overseas.
UH-72A Lakota helicopters are operating from 31 basing locations in the continental US, Puerto Rico, Germany and the Pacific Ocean’s Kwajalein Atoll following the establishment of 10 new fielding sites in 2010. The US Army has ordered 219 UH-72As to date, with the total acquisition of 345 helicopters sustaining production through 2015. Five LUH aircraft are used by the Navy Test Pilot School for their rotary wing test pilot training.
The US Army is using its Lakotas in multiple configurations for medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) missions, search and rescue operations, border patrols along the US/Mexico border, VIP transport, general aviation support and in combat flight training at the service’s Joint Multinational Readiness Center (JMRC) in Hohenfels, Germany, the Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC) at Ft. Polk, La., and soon at the National Training Center, Ft. Irwin, Calif. EADS North America and American Eurocopter engineers continue to integrate additional mission equipment packages (MEPs) on the UH-72A, achieving FAA certification for the Combat Training Center (CTC) MEP in 2010. Efforts continue on additional MEP integration, for a comprehensive package for the Army National Guard’s Security and Support (S&S) Battalion missions.
The training and logistics for the LUH program is also on track. Pilots and maintenance professionals of US Army have completed more than 575 pilot and 375 maintenance personnel completing their classes at American Eurocopter’s headquarters facility in Grand Prairie, Texas. The LUH fleet has accumulated more than 67,500 hours to date.
EADS North America provides the Lakota aircraft as part of the overall program to the DoD. The entire scope of the programme includes the flight and maintainer training, full and hybrid contractor logistics support to the Army and Army National Guard, modifications and retrofit of mission equipment packages onto existing aircraft. The helicopter, associated modifications, training, and logistics support comply with FAA requirements and guidelines.