WASHINGTON, April 27 (UPI) -- The U.S. Army National Guard said it's preparing to receive its first UH-72A Lakota Light Utility Helicopter equipped with a new equipment package.
The new mission equipment package aboard the UH-72A Lakota Light Utility Helicopter includes an electro-optical/infrared sensor, enhanced cockpit screens, high-power illuminator system, analog-digital data downlink capability and Global Positioning Sysytem-enhanced moving map displays.
The package for the EADS North America helicopters will complete certification testing in May.
The National Guard said the security and support-equipped aircraft will be ready to conduct humanitarian and disaster relief efforts as well as other key missions, such as border patrol and counter-drug enforcement.
One system aboard the S&S aircraft is a GPS-guided navigation system with moving maps and street addressees -- an option useful when conducting domestic missions.
"We put a navigation system in which allows us to put in a street address and it will navigate pilots to that precise location," said Col. Neil Thurgood, program manager, utility helicopters.
"We learned during Hurricane Katrina that the fire department, for example, will say 'Hey, go to the corner of Fifth and Main.' As Army aviators we don't necessarily know where that is."
Gregory Barth, LUH project management office avionics lead, said the system guides aviators to those locations to help them facilitate rescues, for instance, or to conduct counter-drug operations.
The new Lakota S&S package comes equipped with a MX15i EO/IR sensor and data downlink enabling pilots to view and share key information in real time with personnel on the ground.
The aircraft also has a new RT5000 radio system able to transmit simultaneously on multiple bands.
The Army National Guard plans to buy at least 100 UH-72A S&S package aircraft; 17 of them will be retrofitted and 83 of them will roll new off the production line.