National Guard unveils new helicopter

Lakota models will be used for search and rescue, disaster relief

By Seth Littrell, Published:

The Kentucky Army National Guard unveiled a new tool in its arsenal Thursday morning: the UH-72A Lakota helicopter.

Maj. Gen. Edward Tonini said the new helicopter will replace the older Kiowa model and will be used for light utility. Specific uses could include reconnaissance, observation and search and rescue operations.

Lt. Gov. Jerry Abramson said the new helicopters would provide great assistance to the Guard, which coordinates responses not only to national security threats, but also environmental threats such as the tornados that impacted much of the state in 2012.

Tonini added that the six helicopters coming to Kentucky would see much use as support craft assisting Kentucky State Police in counter-drug operations. He said the new aircrafts fly at one third of the cost of the commonly used Blackhawk helicopter.

The Lakota comes with several notable features Tonini described, including a high-powered spotlight for search and rescue efforts, the most advanced forward-looking infrared system the military possesses and advanced mapping systems capable of live streaming movements over a secure channel or to the Internet.

“Imagine how helpful this will be when assessing the damage after a natural disaster,” Tonini said while describing the new features.

More than 200 Lakota helicopters will be deployed to U.S. states and territories to act in a support role, Abramson said.

The Kiowa helicopters are being repurposed for various uses, and many have come to the Boone National Guard Center Army Aviation Support to be worked on by engineers there because of their experience and the quality of their work, Tonini said.

Military, state and local officials broke ground in July on a $24.8 million Army Aviation Support Facility at the Boone National Guard Center that will replace a 39,000-square-foot facility built more than 50 years ago.

The new facility will feature 73,460 square feet of maintenance and hangar space, 24,751 square feet of unheated aircraft storage and 28,175 of administrative space. It is slated for completion by this fall.

It is being built on the west end of the Boone National Guard Center, not far from the Capital City Airport runway and Louisville Road. The current facility is on the northern part of the installation near the West Plaza Connector Road entrance.

The expansion has stirred concerns among those living near the Boone National Guard Center and in the flight path, but local officials downplayed those concerns during last year’s groundbreaking ceremony.

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  • They fly over my house regularly. I hear the sound of freedom. 

  • You prolly like a bunch of straight-piped Harleys at a stop light then too, huh?

    Are there any other kind for a Hawg to have?

    pitch, you may not be so sentimental about those Hueys if you lived next door to 37844.

    Naw bubba, sorry. When you have flown in, trained, and repelled from them and then you're not around them you miss them. Hearing and seeing that Huey flying takes me back to the days when the sky around Frankfort was busy all day with them in and out of Fort Boone. Their one of the reason I couldn't wait to join the Army just so I could be in one.

    Don't get me started on the C130 that stops by every now and again. I can be in a deep sleep and hear her sweet sound like an alarm clock waking me.

  • Jeeze I can't belive I did that twice. Believe me, I do know how to spell hear

    "they fly at all hours of the night anymore and it isn't unusual to HEAR them at 2:30 a.m"

  • ooops. not everybody HEARS what some has to

  • I don't think much thought in growth was given when this location was picked. I love everything about the hueys and blackhawks and enjoyed riding in them but not everybody heres what some has to. When it flys right over their houses and causes windows to rattle then it is way to close to enjoy ones home. Also, they fly at all hours of the night anymore and it isn't unusual to here them at 2:30 a.m setting on their pads with rotors running for a half an hour before takeoff. So yes, some people has a legitimate gripe.

  • pitch: "I miss that thump thump of an old Huey and when the Civil Air Patrol takes theirs out I love wathcing her fly around and hearing it."

    You prolly like a bunch of straight-piped Harleys at a stop light then too, huh?  

  • pitch, you may not be so sentimental about those Hueys if you lived next door to 37844.  

  • I would love to pay a small price to move the guard facility toward the outskirts of the county ukfan. It has no business being right by the capitol "no fly" zone and all the houses all over. Can the helicopters not go out westward in the county, or another way, to fly for fun runs and practice? Plenty of trees out that way to do elevation change practices with varied topography for training.

  • We live out on the west side and hear choppers all the time. Live about a quarter mile from. My husband was in Vietnam and every time he hears them he says he loves it because in Nam it was the sound from heaven cause you knew help was on its way. As far as bothering us I feel it's a small price to pay to know we have a well trained National Guard for us citizens.

  • BrunoUno, I got pics of one flying around about two months ago had ever seen one till then they sound like a big swarm of bees. I miss that thump thump of an old Huey and when the Civil Air Patrol takes theirs out I love wathcing her fly around and hearing it.

    At Fort Benning the first time I saw a Blackhawk I said I wouldn't fly in one looks unsafe. Give me a Huey any day..

  • These particular helicopters are not LOUD like the big Hueys...I saw this one just yesterday.  

  • Oh great, more helicopter noise waking up my kids, shaking my house, and the list goes on and on...Juniper, Berry Hill, Tanglewood, and South/North Frankfort have all had enough noise. Will this make homeowners insurance go up, like the State Journal reported, for dwellings in flight paths?