Feature story U.S. Army highlights the UH-72A program's excellence as deliveries pass the 70 aircraft milestone

July 10, 2009

The UH-72A Light Utility Helicopter program was recognized for its continued excellence by one of the top U.S. Army executives responsible for acquisition and fielding of the service’s aviation assets.

The UH-72A displayed at American Eurocopterís 40th anniversary celebration is operated by the Texas National Guard, and is one of 72 Lakotas delivered by EADS North America to date.

Rusty Weiger, the Deputy Program Executive Officer for U.S. Army Aviation, said the UH-72A Lakota’s success demonstrates the EADS North America-led industrial team’s “dedication to the mission of delivering this product on time, every time; training our pilots and maintenance crews; fielding the aircraft, and supporting the equipment in both the active Army and National Guard.”  

Weiger made his comments today during a speech at the 40th anniversary celebration for American Eurocopter – the EADS North America business unit with responsibility for the Lakota’s production.

“The UH-72A has accomplished what few – if any other – major programs have achieved: staying on price and schedule this far into the project…and I see no reason why we can’t continue this performance,” Weiger said.  “I also believe the Lakota program’s reputation will position us – even with today’s budget constraints – to grasp future opportunities that may arise, which will be a win for the U.S. Army, EADS North America and American Eurocopter.”

American Eurocopter’s 40th anniversary celebration was held at the company’s Grand Prairie, Texas headquarters facility, where the Army displayed one of the 72 Lakotas delivered to date by EADS North America.   This particular UH-72A is operated by the Texas National Guard, B 114 Security & Support Battalion, located at Austin.  Two Lakotas were received by the unit in late March, and the helicopters already have been used in operations that include drug eradication missions.  Another two are to be delivered to Austin later this month.

The American Eurocopter 40th anniversary event also provided the opportunity for another U.S. government operator to praise the company’s helicopters in service for the country’s homeland security.

Col. Steve Pitotti, who is the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Executive Director of Test, Training, Safety and Standards, said American Eurocopter’s AS350 and EC120 helicopters are vital to his agency’s patrol duties along the nation’s more than 10,000 miles of border.

“Every hour of every day, American Eurocopter aircraft are defending our border, and we are very pleased with them,” Pitotti said.  “These helicopters are operating in the sub-tropics of Miami, in the frozen cold of Montana at 10,000 feet, over cities such as Washington, D.C., Atlanta and Dallas, and along the entire southwest border of the Rio Grande – all the way to San Diego.  We find these aircraft to be very powerful, very reliable, very fast and very quiet.”

He added that U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s fleet will soon be reaching a total of 67 AS350s and 18 EC120s, and Pitotti thanked American Eurocopter for a “healthy relationship” that ensures its helicopters continually meet his agency’s emerging needs and accomplish their missions.

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