Airbus Group leaders today welcomed the decision by Congress to fund procurement of 20 UH-72A Lakota helicopters through an omnibus spending package that the President has indicated he will sign into law.
"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 CEO 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."
The UH-72A Lakota is built in Columbus, Miss., by a workforce that is more than fifty percent U.S. military veterans. The Army, National Guard and Navy have taken delivery of 290 Lakotas, for missions ranging from disaster response and border patrol to pilot training. With a unit cost of just $5.5 million, the Lakota has the lowest cost to buy, own and operate of any U.S. military helicopter in production.
Army plans originally called for purchasing 31 Lakota helicopters in Fiscal 2014, but a constrained budget environment resulted in an initial budget proposal that included funding for just ten and plans to terminate the program thereafter.
The final appropriations allocation doubles that number, allowing National Guard units to continue to provide support to citizens around the country.
"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."
National Guard Lakotas have provided critical support responding to recent domestic emergencies including this year's wildfires in Colorado, tornadoes in Oklahoma, severe flooding in the West and Superstorm Sandy. They are regularly used to conduct rescues of civilians in distress across the country, and are deployed along the U.S.-Mexico border flying security operations against criminal cartels.
Lakotas are also being used to train Navy, Marine Corps and Army test pilots at the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School.
Source: European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company EADS N.V. (Paris: EAD.PA)
Date: Jan 17, 2014