American Eurocopter CEO: Army to slash Lakota program

Reported by: Mel Carlock
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Updated: 5/15/2013 5:35 pm

COLUMBUS, Miss. (WTVA) -- Sequestration may have a major impact on one Golden Triangle manufacturing facility.

The CEO of American Eurocopter says the Pentagon plans to slash the UH-72A Lakota in its budget plans.

In an editorial published in Defense News, Sean O'Keefe is critical of the decision to cut the program saying the company delivered 260 helicopters on-time and on-cost.

He says the helicopters are built by a highly skilled workforce, more than half of them military veterans, at the company's Columbus helicopter production facility.

O'Keefe says the Army and National Guard plan to hand the mission planned for the Lakota to Blackhawk and UH-58 Kiowa Warrior.

He says both cost more than twice as much to operate than the Lakota.

O'Keefe also says the decision puts at risk the next-generation Armed Aerial Scout that is a variant of the Lakota.

The opinion piece in Defense News is also critical of other decisions involving military aircraft.

American Eurocopter signed a contract in 2006 to build as many as 347 UH-72A Lakotas for the military through 2016.

The Army confirmed a contract for 34 helicopters to be built in Columbus last November.

The company expects to begin deliveries in September.

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