View Full Version : New Army chopper not safe for use

11-10-2007, 01:13 AM
Now that's just sad. :salute:


SACRAMENTO, Calif. - The Army is spending $2.6 billion on hundreds of European-designed helicopters for homeland security and disaster relief that turn out to have a crucial flaw: They aren't safe to fly on hot days, according to an internal report obtained by The Associated Press.

While the Army scrambles to fix the problem — adding millions to the taxpayer cost — at least one high-ranking lawmaker is calling for the whole deal to be scrapped.

During flight tests in Southern California in mild, 80-degree weather, cockpit temperatures in the UH-72A Lakota soared above 104, the point at which the Army says the communication, navigation and flight control systems can overheat and shut down.

No cockpit equipment failed during the nearly 23 hours of testing, according to the Pentagon report, prepared in July. But the report concluded that the aircraft "is not effective for use in hot environments."

The Army told the AP that to fix the cockpit overheating problem, it will take the highly unusual step of adding air conditioners to many of the 322 helicopters ordered.

The retrofitting will cost at least $10 million and will come out of the Army's budget, according to the Army.

California Rep. Duncan Hunter, the ranking Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, told the AP that the lightweight helicopter will still have too many weaknesses.

"In my view, we would be well advised to terminate the planned buy of 322 Lakota helicopters and purchase instead additional Blackhawk helicopters," Hunter said in a letter this week to Army Secretary Pete Geren.

But Army spokesman Maj. Tom McCuin at the Pentagon said: "It's certainly a concern to people out there in the field now because it's hot in those cockpits, but it's being fixed."

The Army has received 12 of the Lakotas so far from the American Eurocopter Corp., a North American division of Germany's European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co., or EADS. Testing on the first six by an independent arm of the Pentagon revealed the problems. The rest of the choppers are scheduled for delivery to the active-duty Army and the National Guard over the next eight years.

The Lakota represents the Army's first major effort to adapt commercially available helicopters for military use. Air conditioning is standard in commercial versions of the aircraft, which have not had overheating problems. But the military usually avoids air conditioning in military aircraft to reduce weight and increase performance.

"We don't need air conditioning in the Blackhawks, so we didn't think it would be an issue" in the Lakota, McCuin said. "But when we got the helicopter into the desert, we realized it was a problem."

The Army plans to use the Lakota for such things as search-and-rescue missions in disaster areas, evacuation of injured people, reconnaissance, disaster relief and VIP tours for members of Congress and Army brass. All of its missions will be in the U.S. or other non-combat zones.

Blackhawks, Chinooks and other helicopters will still be available for more demanding duties, such as fighting wildfires or mass evacuations.

EADS spokesman Guy Hicks declined to comment directly on the criticism leveled against the aircraft. "We're proud of our partnership with the Army and the UH-72A, but we defer on anything to do with aircraft requirements and performance. It's the Army's program and they should address that," he said.

More at Link.

11-10-2007, 07:45 AM
Why is the United States buying German helicopters? Sikorsky, Bell, Hughs...... why aren't we employing American manufacturers?

11-10-2007, 11:27 AM
Why is the United States buying German helicopters? Sikorsky, Bell, Hughs...... why aren't we employing American manufacturers?

Spend American tax money to employ Americans. That is sooooo UNAMERICAN. I can't believe you would even think such a thing.....
(ok sarcasm off)

Mr. P
11-10-2007, 12:24 PM
It's not as bad as it sounds guys.

The UH-72A's industrial activity is centered at American Eurocopter's Columbus, Mississippi facility, which is to undergo a major expansion to accommodate the Light Utility Helicopter program. The Production line of the UH-145 - a version of Eurocopter's EC145 multi-mission helicopter, currently built in Germany - will be duplicated in Columbus through a series of steps that begins with partial assembly, followed by full assembly and the subsequent U.S. manufacture of major subsystems.

The Columbus, Mississippi factory of EADS North Americaís American Eurocopter business unit is undergoing a major expansion to support the UH-72A production, assembly and delivery. Industrial activity at Columbus is starting with the Light Utility Helicopterís build-up and acceptance for delivery, and will subsequently transition to full-scale production with the facility expanding to a total covered area of 325,000 sq. ft. to be completed in the fall of 2007.


PS...I prefer Bell aircraft myself.

11-11-2007, 03:00 PM
I thought this kind of thing was all done at classified airbases like Edwards, Groom Lake, Wright Patterson etc.