Airbus Group on Wednesday delivered the first UH-72A Lakota helicopter to the US Army, as the service's initial-entry training helicopter.
The aircraft will join seven Lakotas already modified to Training Configuration in preparation for the Lakota's formal introduction into the training curriculum in early fiscal 2016, the company announced in its press release on Thursday.
Ultimately, Army plans call for an initial-entry rotary wing training fleet of 187 Lakotas, made up of a mix of new deliveries and already in-service aircraft reconfigured for the training mission.
To date, the Department of Defense has ordered 411 Lakotas, 400 for the US Army. The T 332 aircraft have been delivered from the Airbus Helicopters production facility in USA.
"For a program to succeed in the current budget environment, affordability and reliable program performance must accompany mission flexibility," said Allan McArtor, Airbus Group Chairman and CEO.
"Since awarding the contract in 2006, the Army has managed this program unfailingly on cost and on schedule, and we're proud to see that record continue as we deliver the latest configuration of this versatile, multi-mission aircraft." Allan McArtor added.
"We're making the necessary important investments to ensure a successful transition of the Lakota into training operations at Fort Rucker," said Marc Paganini, President and CEO of Airbus Helicopters Inc.
Army National Guard units, operating UH-72As equipped with the Security & Support Mission Equipment Package, are deployed supporting Customs and Border Protection missions along the U.S.-Mexico border. The Lakota is also operated in a training role by the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School.