EADS North America publicly delivered the U.S. Army’s first UH-72A Dec. 11, 2006 at the Columbus, Miss. facilities of American Eurocopter
. The ceremony at the plant gave officials of the company that led last year’s winning bid in the Light Utility Helicopter competition the opportunity to claim their delivery was three months ahead of schedule. In fact, EADS officially delivered the first aircraft—designated the Lakota in keeping with the Army tradition of naming helicopters after Native American peoples—Nov. 29, which was “on time.” Despite an unsuccessful protest of the June 30, 2006 contract award by MD Helicopters
that halted work for 100 days, EADS and the Army held to the original program schedule. That called for delivery of one UH-72A by Nov. 30 and a second by New Year’s Eve. The aircraft “delivered” Dec. 11 had, in fact, been flown back to Columbus from Fort Rucker, Ala., where the Army had put more than 20 hrs on it.