COLUMBUS, Miss., March 7 (UPI) -- A U.S. unit of Netherlands company EADS reports delivery of the 200th UH-72A Lakota Light Utility Helicopter to the U.S. Army.
The UH-72A is the militarized version of the EC145, a twin-engine aircraft by EADS subsidiary Eurocopter.
Delivery of the aircraft took place during a ceremony at the American Eurocopter production facility in Columbus, Miss.
"Today marks another significant milestone for the Lakota program -- the only Department of Defense program of this size and scope to remain 100 percent on schedule and on budget," said Sean O'Keefe, EADS North America chairman and chief executive officer.
"The success of this program stems from the strong partnership we've built with the Department of Defense and the Army over the past seven years."
The Lakota delivered is the first production aircraft with the new Security and Support Battalion Mission Equipment Package, which features a centerline electro-optical infrared sensor, a 30 million candle power search light, analog/digital video downlink, rear observer's console with a 15-inch display, an enhanced tactical communications suite, an onboard digital video recorder, 10.4-inch auxiliary displays for the pilot and co-pilot, and a video management system.
Eurocopter said the package will allow for a broader range of missions for the aircraft, including armed scout missions in the future.
Previously delivered Lakotas were retrofitted with the S&S systems.
The Lakotas equipped with the S&S Battalion MEP are being flown by the Army National Guard, which supports state and local law enforcement and federal homeland security agencies during disasters and emergencies.
EADS North America said 52 UH-72As will be produced in the Army's S&S Battalion configuration in addition to refits.
The UH-72A can carry eight soldiers in addition to crew or stretchers and a medical team. It has a maximum speed of nearly 170 miles per hour, a service ceiling of 18,000 feet and a range of 426 miles.
It is replacing the National Guard's OH-58 and UH-1 rotary-wing aircraft. Those being acquired by the regular Army will replace Sikorsky's UH-60 Black Hawks.
EADS notes that with its North American subsidiaries -- EADS North America and American Eurocopter -- it contributes more than $11 billion each year to the U.S. economy and supports hundreds of thousands of jobs, both directly and indirectly through its supply and service chain.
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