LOWNDES COUNTY, Miss. (WCBI) – A high-flying partnership between the U.S. Army and a local manufacturing plant was celebrated Monday.
Since coming to Columbus, Airbus has been a major supplier of the Army’s workhorse helicopter – the Lakota.
Since 2006 Airbus Helicopters has built over 550 aircraft for the U.S Government.
Monday morning, the Columbus plant marked another milestone in its relationship with the U.S. Army.
On Monday, Airbus delivered its 200th training aircraft.
This UH – 72A will be used for training at the Army Aviation Center of Excellence in Fort Rucker, Alabama.
Vice President of Airbus Helicopters Mike Spears said this is a huge achievement for the company.
“We started from scratch and now we’re up to 200 and we really appreciate the opportunity to support the Army and defense of our country,” said Spears.
A few years ago the U.S Army landed on the Lakota as the initial flight trainer for aviators.
Program Manager Mike Arrington said the aircraft comes with all bells and whistles.
“The great thing about it is, it’s versatility being able to open up new missions that we can assist the warfighter in executing especially the National Guard. This one is for Fort Rucker and I think it’s a mission on what we need to do and that’s train pilots,” said Arrington.
Spears said that it’ll allow pilots to transfer into more advanced helicopters with less time and effort, as well as assisting with disaster response missions.
“There are configurations on this aircraft that are part of medevac or medical helicopters. There are portions that are used by the National Guard for border patrol activities and it’s also used for search and rescue,” said Spears.
“It also has general sport configurations carry around passengers, damage assessment crews things of that nature. We’ll also have a security and sports mission package and that is mainly designed to assist law enforcement,” said Lieutenant Colonel William Cabaniss.
Military and company officials are hopeful that Airbus and the Lakota will continue to be a part of the Army’s mission.
“It enables us to ensure that we will be able to keep training pilots,” said Cabaniss.
This delivery represents the 440th Lakota helicopter manufactured by Airbus.