COLUMBUS, MISS. (7 May 2018) – Airbus Helicopters Inc. on Friday celebrated its strong record as a supplier to the U.S. Army at the company’s Columbus production facility where it manufactures the Army’s UH-72A Lakota light utility helicopter.
The Army has recently contracted for an additional 51 UH-72As to be produced from 2018 through 2020. Airbus has delivered 423 Lakota aircraft under the Army contract, including helicopters in use with the U.S. Navy and the Royal Thai Army. Since beginning production in Columbus in 2006, Airbus has delivered every Lakota on time, on cost, and meeting stringent Army quality standards. The Columbus plant employs about 200 workers, nearly 40 percent of which are U.S. military veterans.
As a testament to its versatility and reliability, the Lakota fleet recently surpassed 500,000 flight hours in a variety of missions across the globe.
"This milestone is a manifestation of the hard work and dedication of our employees who have helped make the UH-72A Lakota the most viable and affordable multi-mission helicopter for our customers," said Chris Emerson, President of Airbus Helicopters Inc. and head of the North America region.
The Army utilizes the Lakota for a variety of missions including homeland security, drug interdiction, general support, logistics, humanitarian aid, and medevac. Also, the Lakota is the Army’s initial rotary wing training helicopter with more than 1,000 pilots a year training on the aircraft at Fort Rucker, Alabama.
U.S. Senators Roger Wicker and Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi attended Friday’s event in Columbus.
"Mississippians are very good at meeting the needs of our military and building world-class equipment like the Lakota," said Wicker. "After working to support the Lakota’s authorization in the Senate, I am excited to see even more of these state-of-the-art helicopters rolling off the production line. They reflect the skills of our workers in the Golden Triangle and the strong partnership between the Army and Airbus."
"It was her first visit to the Airbus facility for Hyde-Smith. "We take great pride in this helicopter manufacturing facility, which has delivered more than 400 Lakota helicopters to the U.S. Army. Today, we celebrate the continued success of this program and highlight its highly-skilled workforce that consistently delivers high-quality helicopters to our soldiers," said Hyde-Smith.
The Lakota is available in multiple configurations and has the distinction of being the lowest cost U.S. military helicopter to buy, own and operate.
Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant, a staunch supporter of Airbus, also attended the Columbus event.
“The UH-72A Lakota is helping our men and women of the U.S. Army complete their missions and keep us safe at home,” Bryant said. “I commend Airbus for their continued excellence in delivering these helicopters on time and budget and producing them right here in the state of Mississippi. It’s a testament to our state’s skilled workforce.”
Airbus broke ground in Columbus in 2003 and won the initial Lakota contract with the Army in 2006. In addition to military aircraft, the Columbus facility produces the Airbus H125 commercial helicopter for the North American market.
"We at Airbus are proud of the products we build,” stated Emerson. "The quality of our work in the Lakota program is a reflection of our employees’ commitment to supporting our nation’s fighting troops with the finest aviation capability in the world."
Airbus Helicopters Inc. is the leading provider of civil and commercial helicopters in the U.S. The company is based in Grand Prairie, Texas where it operates helicopter completion, paint, and MRO facilities, performs flight test and engineering support, and flight and maintenance training for customers.
Airbus is a global leader in aeronautics, space and related services. In 2016, it generated revenues of € 67 billion and employed a workforce of around 134,000. Airbus offers the most comprehensive range of passenger airliners from 100 to more than 600 seats, and business aviation products. Airbus is also a European leader providing tanker, combat, transport and mission aircraft, as well as Europe’s number one space enterprise and the world’s second largest space business. In helicopters, Airbus provides the most efficient civil and military rotorcraft solutions worldwide.