Fair use except. US Army Public Relations Release:
Business Wire | December 12, 2006
COLUMBUS, Miss. - EADS North America officially delivered the U.S. Army's first UH-72A Light Utility Helicopter yesterday, marking the beginning of this major defense program with a requirement for up to 322 rotary-wing aircraft and a potential total life-cycle value of over $2 billion.
The initial UH-72A was received by the Army during a delivery and naming ceremony in Columbus, Mississippi, where the twin-engine helicopter will be produced.
EADS North America is to deliver a second UH-72A before year-end, responding early to the Army's rapid phase-in schedule for the helicopter, which will be used on logistical and support missions within the United States. Forty more light utility helicopters currently are in the production cycle for delivery to the Army during 2007 and 2008.
"EADS North America is fully committed to meeting the Army's fast-paced requirement for UH-72A deliveries," said Ralph Crosby, Jr., EADS North America's Chairman and CEO. "We are proud to provide the UH-72A months ahead of schedule, an accomplishment that reflects our decision to locate production in Mississippi and our prior investment in this program's success."
At today's delivery ceremony, the Army also unveiled the UH-72A's official name: Lakota, which is a Native American Indian tribe of the Great Sioux Nation. Naming the UH-72A the Lakota continues the service's tradition of naming its helicopters after Native American tribes.
To date, the Army has ordered a total of 42 UH-72As from EADS North America, along with the associated training services for pilots and maintenance personnel. This contract expands EADS North America's 20-year heritage as a supplier to U.S. homeland security and law enforcement agencies, including the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Drug Enforcement Agency, FBI, and numerous state and local law enforcement agencies across the United States.
The Columbus, Mississippi factory of EADS North America's American Eurocopter business unit is undergoing a major expansion to support the UH-72A production, assembly and delivery. Industrial activity at Columbus is starting with the Light Utility Helicopter's build-up and acceptance for delivery, and will subsequently transition to full-scale production with the facility expanding to a total covered area of 325,000 sq. ft. to be completed in the fall of 2007.
Employment at the American Eurocopter facility - which is located adjacent to Columbus' Golden Triangle Regional Airport - has grown steadily since the facility was opened in 2004 with an initial staff of 44. Today, employment at the facility is approximately 140, and will continue to grow to approximately 330 in support of UH-72A production and assembly.
In addition to the UH-72A program, activity at the Columbus factory includes production/assembly of AS350 and EC120 helicopters for U.S. Customs and Border Protection and other government/law enforcement agencies in North America, as well as support for the U.S. Coast Guard's modernization of its HH-65 Dolphin helicopter fleet.
"I am very pleased that the highly skilled workforce in Columbus and East Mississippi is putting our state at the forefront of this important new national defense initiative. We're proud to be a partner in the UH-72A program and with EADS North America's industrial growth," Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour said.
"EADS North America is meeting its goal of establishing a major manufacturing presence in our state," said Senator Thad Cochran of Mississippi. "Its continued growth will be a substantial economic benefit to Mississippians."
"With today's UH-72A delivery milestone, Mississippi expands its contribution to and presence in America's aerospace and defense community," said Mississippi Senator Trent Lott. "The U.S. Army and EADS North America can count on the dedication of our entire state in meeting the Light Utility Helicopter delivery requirements, and for other key homeland security and defense programs in the future."
"The UH-72A will strengthen our nation's defense, benefit Mississippi's economy and create high-paying jobs," stated Congressman Roger Wicker, representing the First Congressional District of Mississippi. "This is certainly a win-win program for both the state and the nation."
Mississippi's Third District Representative, Congressman Chip Pickering, said, "Today marks another milestone in Mississippi's commitment to our men and women in uniform and to protecting the peace and security of our citizens at home. We in the Golden Triangle Region are proud to be the home of the UH-72A Lakota."
EADS North America leads a UH-72A team of industrial partners and subcontractors committed to delivering the best-value Light Utility Helicopter solution to the Army. Partners include American Eurocopter, which is handling the helicopter's production, assembly, delivery and training for the Army; CAE, the supplier of UH-72A cockpit procedural trainers; and Turbomeca USA, which produces the aircraft's Arriel 1E2 engines.
EADS North America is the North American operations of EADS, the second largest aerospace and defense company in the world. As a leader in all sectors of defense and homeland security, EADS North America and its parent company, EADS, contribute over $8.5 billion to the U.S. economy annually and support more than 174,000 American jobs through its network of suppliers and services. With 11 operating companies located in 32 cities and 17 states, EADS North America offers a broad array of advanced solutions to its customers in the commercial, homeland security, aerospace and defense markets.