Press release EADS North America-built UH-72A Lakota helicopters support Gulf Coast oil spill disaster response

Arlington, Virginia, June 29, 2010 –Sixteen U.S. Army National Guard UH-72A Lakota Light Utility Helicopters are operating in the Gulf Coast region to support oil spill monitoring and response missions known as Operation Deepwater Horizon.

The sixteen Lakotas are assigned to Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida Army National Guard units who are providing observation, command and control and general aviation support to local, state and federal agencies responding to the Gulf Coast oil spill disaster.

“The Lakota fleet continues to be a highly valuable aviation asset in helping our Army National Guard units meet urgent requirements, like those found in the Gulf Coast oil spill disaster,” said Army Col. L. Neil Thurgood, U.S. Army Utility Helicopter Project Manager.  “Our Soldiers like the aircraft and the Lakota has been responsible for many life-saving missions.  The UH-72A Lakota helicopter has met cost, schedule and performance metrics since program inception.  I am proud of the Lakota team.”

During Operation Deepwater Horizon, these Lakotas have flown nearly 200 flight hours – monitoring buoys at oil containment areas and looking for breaks in oil booms.

“This latest, high-profile operation clearly illustrates the Lakotas’ ability to perform a full range of operations to support the Army National Guard’s readiness in very challenging mission environments,” said EADS North America CEO Sean O’Keefe.

The U.S. Army plans to acquire 345 UH-72As through 2015, and the service has ordered 182 of the helicopters so far – along with five H-72A versions acquired for the U.S. Navy, which have been delivered.

UH-72As are operated throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, Germany, and Kwajalein Atoll by active duty Army and Army National Guard units.  They are used for missions that include medical evacuation (MEDEVAC), search and rescue, drug interdiction, VIP transport and general aviation support.

Deliveries of the aircraft to National Guard units allow aging OH-58 and UH-1 rotary-wing aircraft to be retired, while UH-72As assigned to the active component of the U.S. Army free up UH-60 Black Hawks for warfighting missions.

EADS North America has delivered 120 UH-72As, all of which have been provided on time and on budget.  The in-service UH-72A fleet has logged more than 32,000 flight hours at an operational readiness rate greater than 90 percent.  

The UH-72A is a Defense Acquisition Category (ACAT) I major defense acquisition program for the U.S. Defense Department, and the Lakota’s service entry in 2007 marked one of the most rapid introductions of a new aircraft in the U.S. Army’s history. 

About EADS North America
EADS North America is the North American operation of EADS, a global leader in aerospace, defense and related services. As a leader in all sectors of defense and homeland security, EADS North America and its parent company, EADS, contribute over $11 billion to the U.S. economy annually and support more than 200,000 American jobs through its network of suppliers and services. Operating in 17 states, EADS North America offers a broad array of advanced solutions to its customers in the commercial, homeland security, aerospace and defense markets.

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