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Feature story The UH-72A “comes home” to its new Army assignment in Mississippi
June 7, 2008
Mississippi gave a home-style welcome to the Army National Guard’s first two UH-72A Lakotas today, unveiling the aircraft at their new basing location in Tupelo – which is about 70 miles from where the new-generation Light Utility Helicopters are built at Columbus, Mississippi.
This morning’s event at Tupelo Regional Airport marked the ceremonial delivery start-up for 200 EADS North America UH-72As that are planned for Army National Guard units across the country.
Today’s unveiling included the traditional handover of an aircraft logbook and keys – which were presented by EADS North America Executive Vice President David R. Oliver, Jr., to Brigadier General William L. Freeman, Jr., the Adjutant General of Mississippi.
The first two Lakotas are assigned to the Mississippi Army National Guard’s 1-114 Security & Support Battalion, which performs homeland security, counter-drug and other operations from Tupelo Regional Airport.
Brig. Gen. Freeman, who is the commanding general for both the Mississippi Army and Air National Guard, said it is a special distinction to have the UH-72A enter service within the state of its industrial origin.
“These Lakotas will greatly enhance our capability – not only for supporting our military, but in aiding the state of Mississippi during times of emergency and in homeland security missions,” he told invited guests at this morning’s ceremony. “We also are very excited about the additional jobs being created by the Lakota’s production in the region of Columbus, Mississippi.”
EADS North America is expected to build 345 UH-72As for the Army through 2017, with Army National Guard units being the new Light Utility Helicopter’s primary operator. Lakota deliveries from the UH-72A’s state-of-the-art facility at Columbus’ Golden Triangle Regional Airport are averaging three to four helicopters per month, with the capability of reaching five monthly.
To date, some 30 UH-72As have been delivered from the Columbus factory, which is operated by EADS North America’s American Eurocopter business unit. The previously-delivered Lakotas have gone to the Army’s National Training Center Air Ambulance Detachment at Ft. Irwin, California; the Training and Doctrine Command’s flight detachment at Fort Eustis, Virginia; and the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, Louisiana.
Brigadier General William T. Crosby, the deputy program manager in the Army’s Program Executive Office for Aviation, said EADS North America has demonstrated its capabilities as a military supplier by providing UH-72As on time, or ahead of schedule.
“It doesn’t happen often that an acquisition officer can say something is ahead of schedule and under cost – and this happens because of such a company as EADS North America,” Crosby said. “What a great capability these UH-72As will bring the Mississippi Army National Guard as you execute your homeland security and RAID [reconnaissance and interdiction detachment] missions throughout the state and in support of our nation.”
- For additional information on the UH-72A’s delivery to the Mississippi Army National Guard, see the June 7 press release.
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