News: Maryland Army Guard unveils newest helicopter in its arsenal
CAMP FRETTERD, Md. – The Maryland Army National Guard unveiled Wednesday its first of four UH-72A Lakota helicopters – which will replace the older OH-58A Kiowa as their premier aircraft for civil support, search and rescue and homeland security missions.
Currently the Maryland Army Guard has six personnel being trained on the new light utility helicopter and its mission equipment package.
According to Guard officials the Lakota brings to the table many improvements over the Kiowa, to include:
• Nose mounted center line payload with infrared and electro-optical sensors and laser painter – which will allow for more accurate search and rescue by using heat signatures;
• Moving map and touch-screen displays;
• Video management system;
• Digital video recorder and data downlink system – which will allow the pilots to insert addresses, latitude and longitude points, and military grid coordinates to find the exact location of contact within 50 feet;
• Additional avionics and communications equipment – to include radios that will allow the Guard members to communicate with law enforcement, emergency medical services and rescue services;
• A 30 million candlepower searchlight and an external hoist to allow the Lakota to move up to 600 pounds of equipment.
Compared to the Kiowa, which is a single-engine helicopter, the Lakota has twin-engines, that during hurricane season will allow Maryland Guard pilots to fly and take off in winds up to 50 knots – about 60 miles-per-hour. A feature that was not available on the Kiowa.
“It’s a state-of-the-art aircraft for … state-of-the-art pilots,” said Army Maj. Gen. James Adkins, the adjutant general for the Maryland National Guard.
The Lakota is also a more cost efficient tool. According to Maryland Guard officials, the Lakota can be maintained and operated at half the cost of the UH-60 Black hawk.
With all of the upgrades the Lakota brings to the Maryland Army Guard fleet, Adkins feels this will position them to be even more efficient for multiple missions.
“Not only does it help Maryland by replacing older aircraft, but it supports the governor … in emergencies … and it supports the federal government as well,” he said.
“Two of these aircraft will be going to the southwest border at the beginning of June to support U.S. Customs down there,” Adkins said. “We’ll use it in state emergencies whether we need to go out and look for lost individuals, or do analysis of the impact of a hurricane.”
Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Renonzo Belcher, a Lakota pilot and a Baltimore police flight officer, was one of the pilots for Wednesday’s flight. He feels that even though the Kiowa was a useful tool for the Maryland Guard, he is looking forward to the capabilities the Lakota will bring to the fleet.
“The old [helicopter] was good, but this one has a lot more capabilities,” he said. “[The Lakota has] a lot more radios, a little bit more power so that we can also conduct hoist missions [and] carry a lot more people and we’re able to stay up in the air lot longer – versus the older plane where two hours of flight-time was feasible the new Lakota can offer us three to three-and-a-half hours.”
The flight was manned by Army Lt. Col. Michael Whelan, commander for the Maryland Army National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 224th Aviation Regiment, Belcher and Army Staff Sgt. Joseph Beale, who was the flight’s crew chief.
Date Posted:04.19.2012 15:46
Location:CAMP FRETTERD, MD, US
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