EADS North America officially delivered the first UH-72A Light Utility Helicopter today to the U.S. Army, marking the beginning of this major defence program. The U.S. Army had selected the UH-145 (renamed UH-72A by the Army) in July 2006 with a requirement for up to 322 helicopters and a potential total life-cycle value of over billion. To date, the Army has ordered a total of 42 UH-72As, along with the associated training services for pilots and maintenance personnel. The UH-72A is based on the commercially success-ful Eurocopter EC145 which has become the standard rotary aircraft for emergency medical service and high demanding utility missions.
This first UH-72A was received by the U.S. Army, in the presence of US senior officials and politicians, during a delivery and naming ceremony in Columbus, Mississippi, where Eurocop-ter's US subsidiary, American Eurocopter, has a production site and will manufacture the twin-engine helicopter. A second UH-72A will be delivered before year-end, responding early to the Army's fast-paced requirement for the helicopter, which will be used on logistical and support missions within the United States. Forty more light utility helicopters currently are in the pro-duction cycle for delivery to the Army during 2007 and 2008.
At today's delivery ceremony, the Army unveiled the UH-72A's official name: Lakota, which is a Native American Indian tribe of the Great Sioux Nation. Naming the UH-72A the Lakota con-tinues the service's tradition of naming its helicopters after Native American tribes.
"This first delivery to such a prestigious client symbolises a major success for Eurocopter, since it's the first time ever that together with EADS, we participate in the U.S. defence mar-ket", said Lutz Bertling, CEO of Eurocopter. "It proves the quality, modernity and mission suit-ability of this helicopter. It creates a great opportunity to strengthen and increase the Eurocop-ter presence on the US market, with a major extension of our production facility in Mississippi and the creation of 250 to 300 US jobs. It is for Eurocopter the outcome of more than 40 years of cooperation with American companies and customer satisfaction."
Eurocopter has been very active on the US market during the past decades and is today the leader in the civil and parapublic market, with more than 50% of this market. Eurocopter, and its US Subsidiary American Eurocopter, supplies helicopters to U.S. homeland security and law enforcement agencies across the United States, including the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Drug Enforcement Agency, and the FBI.
EADS North America, who is acting as a prime contractor for the US Army, leads a UH-72A team of US industrial partners and subcontractors committed to delivering the best-value Light Utility Helicopter solution to this major customer.
The Columbus, Mississippi factory of American Eurocopter is undergoing a major expansion to support the UH-72A production, assembly and delivery. Industrial activity at Columbus is starting with the Light Utility Helicopter's build-up and acceptance for delivery, and will sub-sequently transition to full-scale production with the facility expanding to a total covered area of 32,500 m2 to be completed in the fall of 2007. In addition to the UH-72A program, activity at the Columbus factory includes production/assembly of AS350 and EC120 helicopters for U.S. Customs and Border Protection and other government/law enforcement agencies in North America, as well as support for the U.S. Coast Guard's modernization of its HH-65 Dolphin helicopter fleet.
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