Light helicopter increases Army’s capabilities
By Program Executive Office for Aviation
Members of the Program Executive Office for Aviation traveled to the Airbus Helicopters production facility in Columbus, Mississippi, to accept delivery of the 413th UH-72A Lakota Light Utility Helicopter into the Army fleet May 4.
Col. Billy Jackson, PEO Aviation’s Utility Helicopters project manager, received the aircraft log book during a rollout ceremony to commemorate the aircraft’s induction into the Army inventory. The event marked the first Lakota delivered to the Army under a new production contract signed in March.
Several congressional representatives attended and spoke at the event, including Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, Sen. Roger Wicker and Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant. They recognized the Airbus workforce, applauding their efforts in production of a capability that supports the Army and Soldiers.
The UH-72A Lakota is a versatile platform that operates in permissive, non-hostile environments, employed to support a wide array of non-combat missions. Bringing the modern twin-engine digital aircraft helicopters into to the fleet to replace the TH-67 and OH-58A/C allows the Army to save money by divesting obsolete aircraft that are more costly to maintain.
“The Army increased the operational requirement for the UH-72A Lakota platform by 35 in order to meet force structure increases and to retire aging TH-67 and OH-58A/C aircraft,” Regina Bublitz, product manager for light helicopters, said. “Aircraft number 413 marks the first delivery of an additional 17 aircraft going to the United States Army Aviation Center of Excellence (Fort Rucker) as the primary Initial Entry Rotary Wing training aircraft.”
Besides supporting the initial entry rotary-wing training mission a number of the Lakotas purchased under this contract are earmarked to support observer/controller missions at the Army’s Combat Training Centers.
“The Lakota is a combat enabler that provides critical assets to support Homeland Security and disaster response missions including reconnaissance, air movement, civil command and control, search and rescue, medical evacuation and casualty evacuation,” Bublitz said.
All told, the Army has an acquisition objective of 462 Lakota helicopters.