The U.S. Congress has approved full-rate production for 322 Eurocopter UH-72A Lakotas, the light utility helicopter designated to replace the Boeing UH-60 Black Hawk in stateside Army active as well as reserve and national guard units. The $2.5 billion contract was awarded in June 2006. For FY 2008, both the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives approved $230,491,000.
The Mississippi National Guard will be the first National Guard unit in the country to field the Eurocopter UH-72A Lakota. The unit, the 1st Battalion, 114th Infantry Service Support Battalion, is based in Tupelo,. Miss. and is a part of the 185th Theater Aviation Brigade. It now flies the Bell Helicopter OH-58D in support of reconnaissance, counterdrug, homeland defense, disaster relief, medical evacuations, and search and rescue missions.. Those helicopters will be given to the state of Tennessee, according to the Mississippi guard. The OH-58D carries two tube-launched, optically tracked, wire-guided missile, one on each side. The Lakota is not armed..
The Lakota is manufactured in Columbus, Miss.
The first four Lakotas are to be delivered to the Mississippi Guard in May 2008, with the remaining four by 2010. Soldiers in the 1/114th will be trained to fly the helicopter at American Eurocopter in Grand Prairie, Texas. The Mississippi Guard said the non-availability of the Lakota in the U.S. Army made training by the Army impossible. The only unit flying the Lakota now is the National Training Center’s Air Ambulance Detachment at the National Training Center, Fort Irwin, Calif..