ARLINGTON, Va., Aug. 26 (UPI) -- The U.S. subsidiary of Europe's EADS Group has achieved a milestone on the UH-72A Lakota Light Utility Helicopter program.
EADS North America reported the company has delivered more than half of the planned 345 Lakotas to the U.S. Army.
The UH-72A Lakota, built by the company's American Eurocopter business unit, is one of the U.S. Army's most successful acquisition programs.
"Reaching the midway point in deliveries to the Army with an unblemished record of on-time deliveries is an excellent example of our strong performance on the Lakota program," said EADS North American Chief Executive Officer Sean O'Keefe.
"This program clearly demonstrates the company's ability to successfully execute large programs, in-source manufacturing to the U.S. and create high-value American jobs, while simultaneously delivering on our on-time and on-cost commitment to our Army and Navy customers."
The UH-72A is based on the EC145 multi-role helicopter and was developed by EADS' Eurocopter division. The company's American Eurocopter business unit created a dedicated assembly line for UH-72As in Mississippi and completed the on-time in-sourcing of its full production activity from Germany in 2010 with sustained output reaching 53 rotary-wing aircraft annually at the Mississippi facility.
EADS North America said 180 aircraft have been delivered to the U.S. Department of Defense.
The steady production and delivery represents the rapid success in establishing a world-class production facility, recruiting and training the technical professionals who build the aircraft and the suppliers in the United States and overseas, the company said.
UH-72A Lakota helicopters are operating from 31 bases in the United States, Puerto Rico, Germany and Kwajalein Atoll in the Pacific following the establishment of 10 new fielding sites in 2010.
The Army has ordered 219 UH-72As to date, with the total acquisition of 345 helicopters sustaining production through 2015. Five LUH aircraft are used by the Navy Test Pilot School for their rotary wing test pilot training.
The Army is using its Lakotas in multiple configurations for medical evacuation, search-and-rescue operations, border patrols along the U.S.-Mexico 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.
EADS North America and American Eurocopter engineers continue to integrate additional mission equipment packages on the UH-72A, achieving FAA certification for the Combat Training Center MEP in 2010.
EADS said efforts continue on additional MEP integration, for a comprehensive package for the Army National Guard's Security and Support Battalion missions.
Training and logistics for the LUH program is also on track, it said, with 575 pilot and 375 maintenance personnel completing classes at American Eurocopter's headquarters facility in Grand Prairie, Texas.
EADS North America provides the Lakota aircraft as part of the overall program to the Defense Department. The entire scope of the program includes flight and maintainer training, full and hybrid contractor logistics support to the Army and Army National Guard, modifications and retrofit of mission equipment packages onto existing aircraft.
The helicopter, associated modifications, training and logistics support comply with FAA requirements and guidelines.
The UH-72A is a Defense Acquisition Category I major defense acquisition program. 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 UH-60 Black Hawks for assignment to combat missions.
American Eurocopter, an EADS subsidiary, is a helicopter manufacturer that produces, markets, sells and supports the broadest range of civil and para-public helicopters offered by any manufacturer in the United States.