Feature story UH-72A Lakotas are welcomed to their newest operational assignment in the nationís capital region

August 11, 2010

The flyby of Davidson Army Airfield by the 12th Aviation Battalionís first Lakota was a highlight of the UH-72Aís formal welcoming ceremony and hangar ribbon cutting at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. This is one of four Lakotas that were flown to Fort Belvoir on July 21 from the UH-72A production facility in Columbus, Mississippi.

The UH-72A Lakota was officially welcomed today to its newest fielding location – Fort Belvoir, Virginia, where a total of eight helicopters will be operated by B Company, 12th Aviation Battalion of the Army Air Operations Group (AAOG).  The unit has received four of the eight Lakotas.

Based at Fort Belvoir’s Davidson Army Airfield, these Lakotas will support the AAOG in serving the Military District of Washington and Joint Force Headquarters National Capital Region, as well as for the regional transport needs of U.S. Army leadership.

AAOG Commander Col. Jill Ludowese said EADS North America’s UH-72A offers a modern helicopter for the 12th Aviation Battalion’s operational airlift needs, and provides a highly capable rotary-wing aircraft for homeland security missions, as well as emergency response duties in the National Capital Region.

The following photos offer highlights of today’s UH-72A arrival ceremony, which included a ribbon cutting for the new Lakota hangar at Davidson Army Airfield:

Three of the unit’s UH-72As are shown inside the Davidson Army Airfield’s Hanger 3140 at Fort Belvoir.  The fielding of eight UH-72As to the Army Air Operations Group was approved by the Army in 2007, providing a new-generation helicopter for the 12th Aviation Battalion.  This unit had operated UH-1 Hueys until their retirement in 2002, followed by the utilization of UH-60s – which have been in short supply.

Preparations for the UH-72A’s introduction at Fort Belvoir included the refurbishment of Hanger 3140, which was one of the original structures built at Davidson Army Airfield during the 1950s.  The 12th Aviation Battalion benefitted from input provided by other units that already operate the Lakota, including the District of Columbia National Guard – which also bases its UH-72As at Fort Belvoir – and the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC), headquartered at Fort Monroe, Virginia.

The opening of Lakota’s new “home” at Davidson Army Airfield was marked by a formal ribbon cutting for Hanger 3140, performed by Capt. Jessica Hegenbart, commander, B Company, 12th Aviation Battalion (center).  Joining her (from left to right) are David R. Oliver, EADS North America’s COO; Maj. Gen. Karl Horst, commander of the U.S. Army Military District of Washington and Joint Force Headquarters National Capital Region; Col. Jill Ludowese, AAOG commander; and Bill Sanders, director of Public Works, Fort Belvoir Garrison Command.

UH-72As assigned to B Company, 12th Aviation Battalion are equipped for VIP transportation.  The Lakota’s cabin accommodates eight passengers, with three rear-facing seats located behind the cockpit, two forward-facing seats just aft of the helicopter’s side doors, and three seats behind them.  These aircraft also retain the UH-72A’s large rear-fuselage clamshell doors which facilitate easy loading of cargo and equipment.  

The 12th Aviation Battalion’s Lakotas will have ARC-231 multi-band secure radios for voice and data transmission.  The helicopters also are to be outfitted with Blue Force Trackers – a GPS-enabled system that provides location information on friendly aircraft and other targets.  The unit’s eighth UH-72A – which is scheduled for delivery in 2011 – will be the first equipped with Blue Force Tracker.  Its seven other Lakotas subsequently will be retrofitted with the system.

Today’s arrival ceremony included a special welcome cake for the UH-72A which was served to guests inside the Davidson Army Airfield’s Hanger 3140.  The cake featured the “Black Sheep” logo for B Company, 12th Aviation Battalion.

UH-72A welcoming ceremony videos

Introduction by the AAOG's commander, and UH-72A flyby

Remarks of David R. Oliver, EADS North America COO

Ribbon cutting and opening of the UH-72A Lakota hangar

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