Press release EADS North America delivers the first UH-72A Lakota helicopter to the South Dakota Army National Guard

Delivery ceremony draws hundreds of attendees to the Crazy Horse Memorial

Arlington, Virginia. and Rapid City, South Dakota, May 16, 2011 – EADS North America delivered the first of six UH-72A Lakota Light Utility Helicopters (LUH) to the South Dakota Army National Guard yesterday during a delivery ceremony at the Crazy Horse Memorial in South Dakota’s Black Hills.

The UH-72A Lakota is produced by American Eurocopter in its Columbus, Miss. manufacturing facility located at the Golden Triangle Regional Airport.

The South Dakota Army National Guard will ultimately receive six Lakota helicopters, four in the Medical Evacuation (MEDEVAC) configuration and two in the Security and Support (S&S) Battalion configuration.

“These new aviation assets will better allow us to respond the needs of the state and federal mission,” said U.S. Army National Guard Lt. Col. Mike Snow, South Dakota’s State Army Aviation Officer.  “These new Lakota helicopters enhance the unit’s ability to respond to a wide range of missions when called upon.”

EADS North America has delivered 167 Lakota helicopters since 2006, all on time or ahead of schedule and on budget.

“EADS North America is extremely proud of our track record of delivering every Lakota helicopter on time and on budget,” said EADS North America CEO Sean O’Keefe.  “The UH-72A Lakotas provide a unique aviation capability that Army National Guard units need to perform the demanding missions they are called upon to perform every day.”

UH-72A Lakota helicopters are operating from 31 basing locations in the continental U.S., Puerto Rico, Germany and the Pacific Ocean’s Kwajalein Atoll following the establishment of 10 new fielding sites in 2010.  The Army UH-72A fleet has surpassed the 60,000 flight hour milestone in April.

Five Lakotas for the U.S. Navy – which are designated the H-72A – have been assigned to the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Md. for the training of test pilots from the U.S. military and allied countries.  The Navy has accumulated more than 1,000 flight hours and is currently integrating a training-specific instrument package into its first H-72A with engineering support provided by American Eurocopter.

The U.S. Army is using its Lakotas in multiple configurations for medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) missions, search and rescue duties, border patrols along the U.S./Mexican border, VIP transport, general aviation support and in combat flight training at the service’s Joint Multinational Readiness Center (JMRC) in Hohenfels, Germany, the Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC) at Ft. Polk, La., and soon at the National Training Center, Ft. Irwin, Calif. 

EADS North America delivered aircraft in seven different configurations directly from the production line during 2010, and retrofitted 41 previously-delivered Lakotas to support the growing scope of missions of the UH-72A fleet.

Operational missions have included oil spill monitoring and response flights along the U.S. Gulf Coast after the 2010 Operation Deepwater Horizon oil spill, as well as disaster response following the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti.  Lakotas have also been used in successful rescue operations in California and Arkansas.  Currently four Lakotas from the D.C. Army National Guard, located at Ft. Belvoir, are deployed in Germany for a year to support MEDEVAC missions for U.S. Army Europe command.

EADS North America and American Eurocopter engineers continue to integrate additional mission equipment packages (MEPs) on the UH-72A, achieving FAA certification for the Combat Training Center (CTC) MEP in 2010.  Efforts continue on additional MEP integration, including a MEP for the Army National Guard’s Security and Support (S&S) Battalion missions.

The S&S Battalion mission equipment package expands the Lakota’s capabilities to conduct reconnaissance, border protection, command and control and air movement operations that support U.S. homeland defense and security missions.  In April 2011, EADS North America began retrofitting previously-fielded UH-72As with the S&S Battalion MEP.  In addition to retrofitted aircraft, the first LUH production units with the S&S Battalion MEP will commence later this year with deliveries starting in early 2012.

This successful establishment of a state-of-the-art helicopter production line in the United States demonstrates EADS North America’s ability to in-source high value production activity to the United States.

The 2010 production rate for Lakotas at American Eurocopter’s Columbus facility was 53 aircraft and is scheduled to remain at 53 for 2011.

The training of U.S. Army Lakota aviators and mechanics also continues on schedule under EADS North America’s responsibility, with nearly 550 pilots and 350 maintenance personnel completing their classes at American Eurocopter’s headquarters facility in Grand Prairie, Texas. 

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

About American Eurocopter (
American Eurocopter is a helicopter manufacturer that produces, markets, sells and supports the broadest range of civil and para-public helicopters offered by any manufacturer in the United States. The company is a subsidiary of EADS North America Holdings, the North American operations of EADS, a global leader in aerospace, defense and related services, and is an affiliate of Eurocopter, the largest helicopter manufacturer in the world. American Eurocopter’s product line represents the most cost-effective, technologically-advanced helicopters, ranging from light single to heavy twin, serving all markets and missions. Company headquarters and main facilities are located in Grand Prairie, Texas, with a large manufacturing and production facility in Columbus, Miss., that produces the UH-72A for the U.S. Army’s Light Utility Helicopter program.

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.

About EADS (
EADS is a global leader in aerospace, defense and related services. In 2009, the Group - comprising Airbus, Astrium, Cassidian and Eurocopter – generated revenues of € 42.8 billion and employed a workforce of more than 119,000.

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