The U.S. Army has awarded EADS North America a $181.8 million contract option to deliver 34 additional UH-72A Lakota helicopters, bringing the total aircraft ordered to date to 312. Army plans call for procuring 347 Lakotas through 2016.
EADS North America has delivered 243 Lakotas – all on time and on budget – from its American Eurocopter facility in Columbus, Miss., where up to five aircraft per month are produced by a workforce that is more than 50 percent U.S. military veterans. The same production line would produce the company’s armed Lakota derivative, the AAS-72X+, for the Army’s Armed Aerial Scout helicopter program. ―This latest contract award is a reflection of EADS North America’s commitment to on- time, on-cost performance with the Lakota, a proven, flexible aircraft that is flying every day to meet the Army’s mission,‖ said Sean O’Keefe, EADS North America Chairman and CEO. ―We’re proud of delivering on our promises. In today’s fiscal environment, the Army needs and deserves programs that meet their cost and schedule commitments.‖
―The Lakota program is an example of a successful program that is meeting the Army’s needs by complying with the Army and OSD goals for an ACAT-1 high performing program,‖ said Colonel Thomas H. Todd, the Utility Helicopters Project Manager. ―High performing, well-run programs are the benchmark for major defense program acquisition; the Lakota is clearly in that category.‖
Aircraft deliveries under the latest option will begin in September 2013. The contract also includes eight engine inlet barrier filter kits.
Twenty-four of the aircraft on this contract will receive the Security and Support (S&S) Battalion mission equipment package (MEP), which was procured under a separate contract action. The S&S Battalion MEP expands the Lakota’s capabilities for missionsranging from disaster response to border security operations. It includes a moving map, EO/IR sensor, digital video recording capability, digital and analog downlink, and a searchlight. Army National Guard units across the country currently operate Lakotas equipped with the S&S Battalion MEP, including extensive operations along the U.S. southwest border.
A combination of full contractor logistics support (CLS) for the Active Army and hybrid CLS for the Army National Guard enables the units to operate the Lakota in accordance with their flying hour plan. The Army program office, military units, and the industry team of EADS North America, American Eurocopter and Helicopter Support International has provided tailored program logistics to the Army and Army National Guard since 2006.
The Lakota fleet has averaged an operational availability rate greater than 90 percent for locations with the full contractor logistics (CLS) support, encompassing 21 different military units. Spare parts fill rate under the hybrid CLS concept supporting 33 units has averaged 97 percent.
The UH-72A is a Defense Acquisition Category (ACAT) I major defense acquisition program, and 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.