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Feature story Program milestone: The U.S. Army’s Lakota makes European debut
May 18, 2010
The Joint Multinational Readiness Center (JMRC) in Hohenfels, Germany, has received its initial five UH-72A Lakota Light Utility Helicopters, which will be used for training and support operations.
The JMRC’s Lakotas were transferred from Ramstein Air Base, Germany – where these Light Utility Helicopters were reassembled following their trans-Atlantic airlift from Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi, using a C-17 aircraft.
Preparations for the UH-72As’ arrival have been underway for more than a year. In advance of this delivery, the JMRC sent 20 pilots for qualification training and crew chiefs for academic training, while also readying facilities for the helicopters’ maintenance.
Replacing an aging fleet of Vietnam-era UH-1s, these Lakotas will support pilot training for combat engagements and will also carry observers of war game scenarios performed against “aggressor” aircraft. They will be joined by another five UH-72As that are scheduled for delivery to the JMRC in January 2011.
The Lakotas offer a greater degree of flexibility in training operations, provide increased situational awareness, more capable communication packages for pilots and are easier to maintain. They will be outfitted with a mission equipment package that includes a Multiple Integrated Laser Engagement System (MILES), a SMart On-Board Data Interface Module (SMODIM) and an electronic data manager.
Among the JMRC’s five new helicopters is the milestone 100th Lakota produced and delivered by the prime contractor, EADS North America. To date, the U.S. Army has received more than 110 UH-72As and has plans to acquire a total of 345 aircraft through 2016.
According to military officials, the Lakota program has progressed on schedule and within budget. This next-generation helicopter has been well received by Army aircrews, offering a remarkably high operational availability rate and an admirable safety record.
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