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Feature story Soldiers perform successful parachute jump from the UH-72A Lakota

April 29, 2009

(photo: Chuck Cannon)

The UH-72A Lakota demonstrated its versatility and capabilities as a multi-mission airborne platform on April 8, when five soldiers from Fort Polk, Louisiana became the first on post to perform a successful jump from EADS North America’s Light Utility Helicopter.

The high altitude, low open jump marked the third from a Lakota helicopter – following an initial exercise at the Army’s testing center at Yuma Proving Grounds, and a second at the West Point, New York-based U.S. Military Academy.

Currently, 128 Lakotas have been ordered by the Army, with the military service planning to acquire a total of 345 UH-72As through 2016.

EADS North America has delivered more than 55 Light Utility Helicopters to Army and National Guard units to date, with the aircraft now in service at bases across the country – including Fort Polk.

The Lakota's phase-in enables aging National Guard OH-58 and UH-1 rotary-wing aircraft to be retired, while deliveries to the active component of the Army free up UH-60 Black Hawks for warfighting mission assignments.

"[The UH-72A Lakota is] leaps and bounds beyond what we currently have,” said Major Kevin McHugh, executive officer for the 5th Aviation Battalion (Provisional). “It’s fuel efficient and has a low noise signature. And now we know soldiers can parachute from them.”

The UH-72A was piloted during the parachute jump by Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jacob Schexnayder, who said that important data was compiled during the operation.

“We had no problem at all with the load or with the way the aircraft handled when the soldiers exited. It performed perfectly,” Schexnayder continued.  “This is more than a typical military aircraft. It can do a lot of things a strictly military aircraft can’t do.” 


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