USA — Army’s newest helicopter now flying in Europe

KAISERSLAUTERN, Ger­many — The 21st The­ater Sus­tain­ment Com­mand paved the way for anoth­er first when it facil­i­tat­ed the acqui­si­tion and receipt of five UH-72A Lako­ta heli­copters — the Army’s newest air­craft. The cut­ting-edge heli­copters received at Ram­stein Air Base, April 13, are the first ones to reach the U.S. Army in Europe.

Army’s Joint Multinational Readiness Center at Hohenfels, Germany
A mem­ber of the Fal­con Team, the avi­a­tion detach­ment at the Army’s Joint Multi­na­tion­al Readi­ness Cen­ter at Hohen­fels, Ger­many, per­forms a visu­al inspec­tion of the JMRC’s newest air­craft on Ram­stein Air Base, April 19. The UH-72A heli­copter with the tail num­ber 72100 is the 100th Lako­ta air­craft deliv­ered to the Army. It will be used at JMRC’s Com­bat Train­ing Cen­ter.
Source: US Army
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The light-util­i­ty heli­copters were towed to and reassem­bled at the The­ater Avi­a­tion Sus­tain­ment Man­ag­er Europe’s closed loop facil­i­ty on Ram­stein. TASM‑E, 405th Army Field Sup­port Brigade, which falls under the oper­a­tional con­trol of the 21st TSC, is respon­si­ble for the main­te­nance of the light util­i­ty heli­copters under the Depart­ment of the Army Con­tract Logis­tics Sys­tem.

“As the senior logis­ti­cian for the USAREUR The­ater, Major Gen­er­al (Patri­cia) McQuis­tion, (the com­mand­ing gen­er­al of the 21st TSC) has a keen inter­est in all logis­tics sup­port of this the­ater, to include the con­tracts,” said William Sanders, the chief of the 21st TSC’s sup­port operation’s avi­a­tion logis­tics sec­tion.

How­ev­er, until the Army offi­cial­ly took pos­ses­sion of the air­craft, it was hands-off for them. While TASM‑E pro­vid­ed the space, equip­ment and tools and stood ready to assist when and wher­ev­er pos­si­ble, the Lako­tas were being off-loaded and re-assem­bled by rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the man­u­fac­tur­er and the light util­i­ty heli­copters prod­uct office at Red­stone Arse­nal, Ala.

Await­ing their turn was not always easy.

“They are so new, they still have that new heli­copter smell,” said Carl Mar­quez, an air­craft mechan­ic at the closed loop facil­i­ty.

“On the oth­er hand, who could do it bet­ter, any­way? Every­one here is work­ing toward an easy and smooth tran­si­tion,” said Allen Par­tain, a qual­i­ty assur­ance rep­re­sen­ta­tive with TASM‑E.

Final­ly, when it was time for the ground run-ups of the first three reassem­bled Lako­tas April 19, the end own­ers had their turn. Three instruc­tor pilots from the Joint Multi­na­tion­al Readi­ness Cen­ter and sev­en air crew famil­iar­ized them­selves with the newest addi­tions to their train­ing fleet.

The avi­a­tion detach­ment known as Fal­con Team pro­vides the air sup­port train­ing at JMRC in Hohen­fels, Ger­many. The cen­ter is slat­ed to receive 10 UH-72As. Among its ini­tial deliv­ery is the air­craft with tail num­ber 72100, sig­ni­fy­ing the 100th Lako­ta heli­copter deliv­ered to the Army.

The heli­copters will be used to train pilots for com­bat engage­ments. Addi­tion­al­ly, they will car­ry observers to over­see war game sce­nar­ios against oppos­ing force air­craft, said Maj. Bri­an Par­sons, an avi­a­tion observ­er con­troller with the Fal­con Team.

In addi­tion to pro­vid­ing JMRC with the flex­i­bil­i­ty to train diverse sce­nar­ios, the mul­ti-role Lako­tas will replace the aging UH‑1 Iro­quois air­craft at JRMC and will free up the UH-60 Black Hawk heli­copters for tac­ti­cal mis­sions and deploy­ments.

That’s anoth­er plus for the 21st TSC, which is respon­si­ble for report­ing the air­craft readi­ness of this the­ater to the Depart­ment of the Army. The intro­duc­tion of the Lako­tas will boost readi­ness rates as well as addi­tion­al oper­a­tional capa­bil­i­ty, Sanders explained.

Simul­ta­ne­ous­ly, being able to turn in the reli­able but old Hueys at JMRC will elim­i­nate a main­te­nance night­mare.

“Obtain­ing parts for the UH‑1 Hueys has been a sig­nif­i­cant chal­lenge for a while, because (the Army) can­celled all repair parts pro­duc­tion lines for this air­craft,” Sanders said.

The Lako­ta, an advanced rotary-wing air­craft, is pro­duced by Amer­i­can Euro­copter, a busi­ness unit of Euro­pean Aero­nau­tics Defense and Space.

“The Lako­ta is the mil­i­tary ver­sion of an exist­ing air­craft — the EC 145 Euro­copter — it was actu­al­ly designed in Donau­wo­erth, Ger­many, which makes it even bet­ter suit­ed for the train­ing mis­sion here,” said Bill Ben­nett, a con­tract field ser­vice rep­re­sen­ta­tive with Amer­i­can Euro­copter.

Meet­ing the Army’s com­mer­cial off-the-shelf acqui­si­tion strat­e­gy for light util­i­ty heli­copters also equates to time and mon­ey saved for research and devel­op­ment as well as acqui­si­tion.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)