WASHINGTON (Army News Service, July 10, 2008) - Louisiana's Aviation Command last week became the latest National Guard unit to receive the new light utility UH-72A Lakota helicopter.
C- Company, 1-114th Aviation Security and Support Battalion received two Lakota's July 2 and is slated to receive two more of the state-of-the-art helicopters later this month. They will be used for command and control missions such as aerial reconnaissance, counter-drug operations, weapons of mass destruction, and hurricane emergencies.
Since the Army took delivery of its first UH-72A Lakota in November 2006, its builder, EADS North America, has delivered a total of 32 helicopters. On June 2, the National Guard's first Lakotas were assigned to Detachment 1, C Company 1-114th Aviation Security and Support Battalion, Tupelo, Miss.
Lakota helicopters have also been fielded to the National Training Center Air Ambulance Detachment at Fort Irwin, Calif., to the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, La., and to the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command Flight Detachment at Fort Eustis, Va. The Aviation School at Fort Rucker, Ala., also has Lakotas, and the Eastern Army Aviation Training Site at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pa., received one in early June.
Plans are to field a total of 345 Lakota helicopters by 2017, and Product Manager Lt. Col. Jim Brashear said 60 of those are already under contract. The Florida National Guard in Jacksonville, Fla., is next on the list to receive two in August. Then two are scheduled to be fielded to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., in October.
The Lakota is a military version of the civilian Eurocopter EC-145 multi-mission helicopter, used worldwide for law enforcement, emergency medical transportation, search and rescue, and corporate transport, modified to a LUH that will replace the OH-58. It usurped some of the most modern and proven technology into one aircraft to deliver superior performance, outstanding operational reliability, excellent maintainability and safety.
"I love flying this helicopter verses the OH-58 because of its new technology," said executive officer of the 1-114th S&S, 1st Lt. Kin Romas of Lake Charles, La.
"Some of its features include auto pilot, and twin engines that will expand the mission capabilities we have today," said Terry Blackmore, UH Lakota fleet manager of Huntsville, Ala. "I like the reliability of its navigational GPS system, and its speed."
"It has a lot more power than the OH-58 allowing it to carry more people and haul more equipment," he continued. The UH Lakota seats up to nine passengers; it can hold a maximum weight of about 8,000 pounds and travel at speeds up to 145 knots, or 166.75 miles per hour.
The UH-72A's unobstructed main cabin is re-configurable to maximize mission flexibility for transport. It also has sliding side and rear clamshell doors to optimize access and provide more space as needed.
A wall-mounted medevac kit was installed to allow Soldiers to have better access to medical gear instead of storing it in a canvas bag on the floor of the helicopter. Another modification tested last month at Fort Irwin, Calif., was the Engineer Inlet Barrier Filter. This filter keeps dust and other particles from entering the turbine engines and causing damage.