The US Army has taken delivery of the 200th UH-72A Lakota Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) from Eurocopter at its production facility in Columbus, Mississippi, US as part of its UH-72A LUH programme.
The helicopter is also the first Security and Support (S&S) Battalion Mission Equipment Package (MEP) equipped Lakota to be delivered by the LUH programme's prime contractor EADS North America.
The S&S Battalion MEP-equipped helicopters will be used by the Army National Guard units to continuously support state and local law enforcement and federal homeland security agencies in responding to natural disasters and border security operations across the US.
The MEP features a centreline electro-optical infrared (EO/IR) sensor, an onboard computer, enhanced tactical communications radios, touch screen monitors, analogue/digital video downlink, an onboard digital video recorder and GPS, and a video management system.
The package improves the helicopter's mission capabilities by providing still imagery and real-time streaming video to ground stations or command centres, a street address capability and a 30-million-candle power search light.
The company is currently producing 52 Lakotas in the Army's S&S Battalion standard, in addition to 16 UH-72As already being retrofitted to this configuration, and the total number of S&S Battalion Lakotas is expected to reach 99.
The twin-engine helicopters will be used to perform medical evacuations, search and rescue operations, homeland security, VIP transport, disaster response and relief, combat flight training and pilot sustainment training.
The aircraft will replace the US Army's ageing OH-58 and UH-1 rotary-wing aircraft, while allowing UH-60 Black Hawks to participate in combat missions.
The US army has ordered a total of 345 UH-72As under a Defence Acquisition Category (ACAT) I programme that will sustain through 2015.
EADS has delivered 200 Lakotas to the Army, along with five H-72A versions to the US Navy to date for test pilot training purposes.
Image: UH-72A Lakota, equipped with additional MEPs, will allow the Army National Guard to better respond to a wide range of missions. Photo: Kim Henry.