UH-72A Lakota flies with MEP
The UH-72A Lakota has started flight tests equipped with the Security and Support Battalion (S&S Battalion) Mission Equipment Package (MEP). The S&S Battalion MEP will greatly expand the Lakota’s use for reconnaissance, command and control and air movement operations.
When it enters service this MEP will be operated by U.S. Army National Guard Security and Support (S&S) Battalions, the new UH-72A version integrates a mission equipment package that includes a nose-mounted center line payload with infrared and electro-optical sensors and laser pointer, moving map and touch-screen displays, a video management system, digital video recorder and data downlink system, plus additional avionics and communications equipment. The helicopter will carry a 30 million candlepower searchlight and an external hoist.
U.S. Army National Guard S&S Battalions are located throughout the United States and provide a dispersed, readily available, light aviation capability for military missions and operations in support of civil authorities. These units currently operate aging Vietnam-era rotary-wing aircraft, which will be replaced by the UH-72A.
The UH-72A is produced in Columbus, Miss. by American Eurocopter, which built a dedicated assembly line for the Light Utility Helicopter. A systems integration facility was created at this site to manage the development of UH-72A’s mission equipment package for the Army National Guard S&S Battalion configuration.
A total of 345 UH-72As are planned to be acquired by the U.S. Army through 2015, approximately 200 will be assigned to the Army National Guard. Initially, 100 Lakotas are expected to be equipped with the mission equipment package for operation by the S&S Battalions.
EADS North America has delivered 125 UH-72As, all provided on time and within budget. These aircraft are being used in missions across the U.S and Puerto Rico that include medical evacuation (MEDEVAC), search and rescue, drug interdiction, VIP transport and general aviation support.