ARLINGTON, Va., May 18 (UPI) -- The first of six UH-72A Lakota Light Utility Helicopters has been delivered to the South Dakota Army National Guard, EADS North America announced.
The delivery was marked with a ceremony at the Crazy Horse Memorial in South Dakota's Black Hills.
"EADS North America is extremely proud of our track record of delivering every Lakota helicopter on time and on budget," said EADS North America Chief Executive Officer Sean O'Keefe. "The UH-72A Lakotas provide a unique aviation capability that Army National Guard units need to perform the demanding missions they are called upon to perform every day."
The UH-72A Lakota is a twin-engine helicopter with a single, four-bladed main rotor. It's produced by American Eurocopter, a subsidiary of Eurocopter and an EADS business unit.
The South Dakota Army National Guard will ultimately receive six Lakotas, four in the Medical Evacuation configuration and two in the Security and Support Battalion configuration.
"These new aviation assets will better allow us to respond the needs of the state and federal mission," said U.S. Army National Guard Lt. Col. Mike Snow, South Dakota's State Army aviation officer. "These new Lakota helicopters enhance the unit's ability to respond to a wide range of missions when called upon."
EADS North America has delivered 167 Lakota helicopters since 2006. They operate from 31 locations in the continental United States.
EADS said the Army UH-72A fleet has passed the 60,000-flight-hour milestone in April.
The U.S. Army is using its Lakotas in multiple configurations for medical evacuation missions, search-and-rescue duties, border patrols along the U.S./Mexican border, VIP transport, general aviation support and in combat flight training at the service's Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels, Germany, the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, La., and soon at the National Training Center, Fort Irwin, Calif.