New Helicopters for Iowa Nat. Guard

July  09, 2013

The army has some new aircraft in Iowa. Today, the National Guard announced the purchase of seven new helicopters at the Davenport Aviation Readiness Center. Five of them are CH-47F Chinook  transport helicopters. The other two are UH-72A Lakota Light Utility Helicopters. They will replace older versions of the same models.

Aviation Maintenance Officer, Captain Forest Lightle, says it's rare to receive two different kinds of new helicopters at once. The Chinook is only updated about once every decade. "This is truly less than a once in a career opportunity for most military guys. The last time this was fielded to active duty units was in the late 80's. The last time this was field to our national guard unit was in the 90's. You're not going to see this kind of development. It doesn't happen very often," Lightle says.

One of the biggest improvements to both helicopters may be their autopilot and avionics systems. Mechanic Jason Reed says the Lakota almost flies itself. "It's really user friendly. It's taken down that pilot workload so they can focus on the mission and don't have to worry as much about flying the aircraft," he says.

Lightle says this makes both helicopters much safer.

The total cost of the seven aircraft was 200 million dollars. The Chinooks cost 37 million dollars each, and will deploy worldwide to transport troops and supplies . The Lakotas cost 7 million dollars each. They will run search and rescue missions, evacuations, and counter-drug operations in Iowa.