Operational Lakota helo deliveries get under way
Deliveries of the Eurocopter UH-72A (EC 145) Lakota to the U.S. Army are gathering pace since the first helicopter entered into service in November 2006. Last month the first operational unit received its first aircraft, and the second unit began accepting aircraft a few days ago.
Since being selected to fulfill the light utility helicopter requirement in June 2006, the UH-72A has been placed on a fast track to allow the U.S. Army to replace its UH-1 Hueys and Bell OH-58A/Cs in a variety of utility and homeland defense missions, including air ambulance, reconnaissance, counter-drug and emergency support. Plans call for 345 aircraft to be bought by 2017, both for the Army National Guard and Active Component. Current contracts cover the first 60 aircraft.
So far EADS North America has delivered 32 aircraft. Early aircraft went to training units, such as TRADOC Flight Detachment (Fort Eustis, Virginia); Joint Readiness Training Center (Fort Polk, Louisiana); Aviation School (Fort Rucker, Alabama); NTC Air Ambulance Detachment (Fort Irwin, California); and the Eastern Army Aviation Training Site (Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania).
On June 2 the first service unit received its aircraft when a pair of Lakotas went to Detachment 1, C Company of the 1-114th Aviation Security and Support Battalion at Tupelo, Mississippi. The parent C/1-114th AVN SSB (Louisiana National Guard) received the next pair early this month, and two more will follow in the coming weeks. In August the Florida National Guard begins getting UH-72As, followed by the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.