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Lakota celebrates its 300th helicopter

Reported by: Wayne Hereford
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Updated: 5/15 11:29 am
COLUMBUS, Miss. (WTVA)--It was a breath-taking scene high in the air above the Mississippi State University campus .

The aerial view is courtesy of Airbus Helicopters, Incorporated of Columbus. The group which makes the UH-72A model Lakota.

Company officials say it's a machine that has proven time and again that it can do just about whatever the U.S. Army needs it to.

"The aircraft is extremely capable of doing a number of different missions," said Lt. Col. David Cheney of the U.S. Army. "We do medivac missions, VIP missions, homeland security missions which is unique to this particular platform."

On this day the company handed over the keys to its 300th Lakota to U.S. Army reps.

This is a major milestone for the company and the Army as well.

"The United States Army recently made a decision that there are only going to be four kinds of helicopters that they operate in the United States Army. And, the Lakota helicopter is one of those four," said Sam Adcock, general-manager of Airbus Helicopters Goldent Triangle facility. 

"And this particular aircraft is going to the National Guard to support the S and S, Security and Support mission on the Southwest border," said Lt. Col. Cheney.

Business has apparently picked up at Airbus Helicopters, officials say, where some 300 workers take their time to produce a helicopter that has a $5.5 million base price.

Company officials admittted that it has not all been smooth sailing for the manufacturer as government defense cuts hit hard last year.

But at Wednesday's Delivery Ceremony in Columbus, there were a number of government officials and business people on hand to reassure workers that they are committed to keeping the company above ground.

"And it is with a great deal of satisfaction that we learn that the Lakota will once again be helping the Army meet a very critical need by becoming the platform by which the Army is modernizing its training mission," said company executive Allan McArtor.

"Thank you as members of Congress, thank you as members of the military, and by golly as taxpayers of the United States of America, thank you for delivering on time and on budget," replied Florida Congressman Rep. Jeff Miller, who was in attendance as well.

Up next for the company is the A-S 350, which workers will begin assembly on in September. 

Company officials say A-S 350 is the helicopter that will soon be used by the mississippi department of public safety.
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