The U.S. Army has awarded EADS North America a $67 million contract for the supply of mission equipment packages on UH-72A Lakota Light Utility Helicopters to be operated by Army National Guard Security and Support Battalions.
This contract award is the first phase of a total contract value estimated to be approximately $152 million, company officials said in a statement Monday.
Built at the company’s American Eurocopter facility at Golden Triangle Regional Airport in Lowndes County, these system improvements will be placed on UH-72A models deployed throughout the United States where the Army National Guard Lakota aircraft are stationed.
The packages expand the Lakota’s use in reconnaissance, border protection, command and control and air movement operations that support U.S. homeland defense and security missions.
“This contract underscores EADS North America’s ability to integrate complex mission systems that meet our warfighters’ needs,” said EADS North America Chairman Ralph D. Crosby Jr. “It also marks a new milestone in the evolution of the UH-72A, as this capable helicopter is given increasingly diverse operational duties with the U.S. Army.
Supporting the S&S mission is further evidence of our industry team’s commitment to delivering state-of-the art products that enable the Army to meet today’s demanding missions.”
Deliveries of UH-72As with the S&S Battalion Mission Equipment Package are scheduled to begin in 2011. The contract covers EADS North America’s supply of an initial 36 MEPs, with the U.S. Army expected to ultimately acquire systems to outfit a total of 99 Lakota helicopters.
The UH-72A S&S Battalion configuration includes a forward centerline-mounted camera system with electro-optical and infrared sensors and laser pointer, a 30 million candlepower searchlight, operator
console, cockpit and cabin touch-screen displays with moving map, a video management system, a digital video recorder and data downlink system, plus an external hoist and additional avionics and communications equipment.
Located throughout the United States, the U.S. Army National Guard S&S Battalions provide a dispersed, readily available, light aviation capability for military missions and operations in support of civil authorities.
These units currently operate aging Vietnam-era rotary-wing aircraft, which will be replaced by the UH-72A.
The UH-72A is produced at the GTRA facility by the American Eurocopter operating unit of EADS North America, which built a dedicated assembly line for the light utility helicopter.
A systems integration facility was created at this site to manage the development of UH-72A’s MEP for the Army National Guard S&S Battalion configuration.
A total of 345 UH-72As are planned for acquisition by the U.S. Army through 2015, which includes the versions outfitted for operation by the S&S battalions.
To date, EADS North America has delivered a total of 134 UH-72As, all delivered on time and within budget.
These aircraft are being used in missions across the U.S and Puerto Rico that include medical evacuation, search and rescue, drug interdiction, VIP transport and general aviation support.
UH-72As have been deployed overseas as well, with aircraft now assigned to the U.S. Army’s Joint Multinational Readiness Center (JMRC) in Germany for training and support operations, and based on the Pacific Ocean’s Kwajalein Atoll for transport and support missions at the Army’s Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site.
In another application for the Lakota, the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Md., operates five H-72A versions for the training of test pilots from the U.S. military and allied countries.
The UH-72A is a Defense Acquisition Category (ACAT) I major defense acquisition program for the U.S. Defense Department, and it has 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-72A models assigned to the active component of the U.S. Army free up UH-60 Black Hawks for assignment to warfighting missions.