Hoeven, State, Guard Leaders Welcome Arrival of New UH-72A Lakota Helicopters

Event Included Tribal Nations Blessing and Naming Ceremony

BISMARCK, N.D. – Senator John Hoeven and state and National Guard Leaders today welcomed the arrival of four new UH-72A Lakota Helicopters, light utility aircraft that will add to the North Dakota National Guard’s fleet and enhance its ability to respond in a flexible and timely way to floods, fires and other civil support needs in the state.

Congress approved $250 million for the Lakota program in Fiscal Year 2012 and the Senate Appropriations Committee, on which Hoeven serves, recently recommended continued funding for the program through Fiscal Year 2013. The Lakota program remains on schedule and on budget.

The modern Lakota aircraft, which is crewed by two and seats six, will be used for civil search and rescue operations, damage assessments, reconnaissance and surveillance, training and medical evacuation missions. It will not only help North Dakota by replacing older aircraft, but also support the state and federal government in emergency response situations. In the past, utility helicopters have been used during floods, wildfires and other state emergencies.

The welcome event, which took place at the United Tribes Technical College campus during the annual Tribal Summit, included a blessing and naming ceremony by Tribal Nations and a benediction by the chaplain of the North Dakota National Guard.

“Time and again air support from North Dakota’s National Guard during the height of a disaster has potentially saved lives and helped to mitigate even more extensive property damage,” Senator Hoeven said. “Light utility aircraft like the Lakotas are an integral part of almost any emergency response, and these new ones are extremely well equipped to provide vital information, search and rescue operations and medical evacuations when time is of the essence.”

Also participating in the ceremony were Governor Jack Dalrymple, Congressman Rick Berg, Adjutant General David Sprynczynatyk, Indian Affairs Executive Director Scott Davis, United Tribes Technical College President David Gipp and the tribal chairmen of the Standing Rock Sioux, Three Affiliated Tribes, Spirit Lake Nation, Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa and the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate.