Friday, May 2, 2014
The U.S. Army’s decision to buy 100 more Mississippi-built UH-72 Lakota helicopters for pilot training increases the chance for international sales, officials said. "If you look at the other opportunities both in the U.S. and allies, common sense would say, if you have the largest rotary wing operator of aircraft in the world and they've made this selection, that takes a lot of risk out of your decision making," John Burke, Airbus Group's Lakota program manager, said at a luncheon with reporters Thursday in Washington. The Lakota, built in Columbus, Miss., is a militarized version of the commercial EC145. The operation in Mississippi previously was known as American Eurocopter. The Army doesn't use the Lakota in combat but instead for homeland security, drug interdiction, general support, logistics and medical evacuation. The Army had planned to conclude its purchase of 340 Lakota UH-72s in 2015. The Pentagon cut back Lakota purchases in its 2014 budget proposal, however, its 2015 spending plan adds 100 aircraft for pilot training. The company plans to deliver the 300th aircraft to the Army in the coming weeks. (Source: Defense News, 05/01/14) Gulf Coast note: In addition to the Airbus Helicopters facility in Columbus, Airbus has an engineering center and Airbus Military operation, and is building an A320 final assembly line in Mobile, Ala.