Local Iowa National Guard Unveils New Helicopters - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Local Iowa National Guard Unveils New Helicopters

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     It's not every day you can get an up close look at brand new military helicopters. But the public got the chance to do that Tuesday at the Army Aviation Support Facility in Davenport.

     The Iowa Army National Guard is very excited about having a new fleet with two new helicopter models. There are a half dozen CH-47F Chinooks which used for long-distance transportation, along with two UH-72A Lakota helicopters used for things like emergency medical transport and search-and-rescue missions. It's a 200 million dollar investment altogether on the equipment expected to last several decades.

     A lot of the upgrades have to do with technology: satellite imagery, better infrared signature suppression, the works. The Chinook now has a digital cockpit with enhanced communications and navigation equipment. As opposed to reading analog gauges and flying manually the helicopter can basically do the job itself, allowing the crew a better chance to plan for a mission. There was a big need for something new as most of the old Chinooks were built or refurbished in the 1980's.

     The new Lakota replaces a design from the 1950's. With dual engines the new model is more powerful to haul more people and have new flexibility in missions. Soldiers say all this will improve their response for whatever job they're called to do.

     "Our soldiers, even our weekend soldiers are training on these aircrafts learning incredible skills because they're no longer working on antiquated equipment," said Lt. Col Jamie Dailey. "The addition of these state-of-the-art helicopters makes Iowa a premier aviation state.

     The Iowa National Guard was one of the first states to get these model helicopters. The transition for the entire Army or National Guard is going to occur over the next five years.