HERNDON, Va., Jan. 22 (UPI) -- The decision by Congress to fund the acquisition of 20 Lakota UH-72A helicopters for the military has been lauded by its manufacturer, the Airbus Group.
"This continuation of the government contract orders for the Lakota demonstrates the value of affordable, cost-effective programs in a constrained budget environment," said Sean O'Keefe, chairman and chief executive officer of Airbus Group Inc. "That support means a lot to the American workers who have delivered every single Lakota on time and on budget over the last seven years."
Approval for funding of the helicopters came recently in an omnibus defense spending package. The Army had originally planned to procure 31 Lakota's in fiscal 2014. Budget constraints later changed the number to 10, but the bill's final appropriations allocation set the procurement number at 20.
"We understand that in the current fiscal environment, our customer and the American taxpayer can't afford to waste a penny," O'Keefe said. "This is a time to support programs that deliver what is promised and also have a vital role to play in our national security -- programs like the Lakota."
The UH-72A is twin-engine light utility helicopter. It has a cruise speed of 153 miles per hour and a range of 426 miles. Nearly 300 have been built for the U.S. military for use in a range of missions, including pilot training.
The helicopters are built at the company's facility in Mississippi and cost about $5.5 million each.