The U.S. Army has ordered 12 UH-72A Lakota helicopters and related equipment valued at $65.8 million from Airbus Helicopters Inc. in Columbus, which has delivered almost 350 Lakotas to the Army, Navy and foreign military.
The choppers will be delivered starting in August of 2017, for the Army as initial entry rotary-wing trainers, according to a news release.
This year the Army has sent more than 50 Lakotas to Fort Rucker, Ala., to be used for training. Ultimately, the Army plans a fleet of 187 new helicopters and reconfigured in-service aircraft.
“Time and again the UH-72A has proven to be the most cost-effective solution to meet a wide variety of needs for the U.S. military and our allies,” Allan McArtor, Airbus Group Inc. chairman and chief executive, said in the release.
“Almost half the men and women who build the UH-72A in Mississippi are U.S. military veterans, and some even fly in Lakotas in the Army National Guard,” said Chris Emerson, president and chief executive of Airbus Helicopters Inc. “Everyone on that production line takes a great amount of pride in their unbroken record of delivering on their commitments, and we hope they’ll be building Lakotas for many years to come.”
Airbus Helicopters employs 250 in Columbus.
The Navy operates the Lakota in training. The Royal Thai Army purchased six aircraft. Army National Guard units use specially equipped Lakotas in support of customs and border protection along the U.S. border with Mexico.
Airbus Helicopters is a wholly owned subsidiary of Airbus SAS of France, a major competitor with Boeing.