GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas, June 10 (UPI)
Companies involved in production of UH-72A Lakota helicopters for the U.S. Army are protesting a procurement cut back in the Defense Department's 2014 budget.
Officials and workers from American Eurocopter, EADS North America and Turbomeca rallied Friday to protest the cuts and to press for full restoration of funding. Joining them were two U.S. congressmen.
"The Lakota helicopter program is critically important to the country's national security and in this time of severe budget cuts, must be protected," said Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Texas. "These cuts are hurtful and damaging -- they hurt families who rely on these jobs and DFW [Dallas-Fort Worth] businesses that work with the program.
"As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, I am proud to show my support for this program and will keep pushing for its continued production. Proposed cuts to the Lakota program are a misguided attempt to find savings in a way that would cost the Metroplex severe job loss and economic revenue."
American Eurocopter performs all engineering changes for Lakota modifications and upgrades in Grand Prairie. It also trains Lakota pilots and maintenance personnel. American Eurocopter manufactures the aircraft at a facility in Mississippi.
So far, 267 Lakota helicopters have been delivered to the Army. In the proposed budget, 31 fewer helicopters will be produced than previously planned. Additional details, however, were not disclosed.