Hundreds of supporters of the Army’s UH-72 Lakota helicopter rallied Friday at the helicopter’s manufacturing plant in Grand Prairie to urge Congress to restore its funding.
Under the Pentagon’s proposed cuts to defense spending, funding for the Lakota will be terminated by the end of 2014, said Bob Cox, spokesman for American Eurocopter, EADS North America, which produces the helicopter.
The cuts could endanger hundreds of jobs of employees at American Eurocopter, EADS North America, including 600 employees who work at the local American Eurocopter facility. The facility is the engineering site for Lakota modifications and upgrades.
Two North Texas lawmakers joined about 900 supporters in the rally in support of the Lakota, Cox said.
“The Lakota program has proved to be consistent and effective,” said U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Ennis.
U.S. Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth, said the Lakota program was “critically important” to the country’s national security.
“These cuts are hurtful and damaging – they hurt families who rely on these jobs and DFW businesses that work with the program,’’ Veasey said.
The Lakota is used for missions, including border security, search and rescue, medical evacuation, transport and pilot training.
The cuts would mean that 31 fewer aircraft than the Army planned to buy would be built. So far, 267 Lakota helicopters have been delivered to the military.