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Malta Purchase US Rescue Helicopter

Aug 24, 2008
In an effort to improve its rescue and security services, the government of Malta has recently purchased a new type of U.S.-made helicopter. Malta is the first country outside of the U.S. to use the UH-72A, a helicopter that American armed forces have only recently begun to use.

The U.S. government is buying over 300 of the new helicopters, called the "Lakota." It will replace aging, outdated military helicopters with the new models. The main improvement over older helicopters that the Lakota offers is a set of twin-engines. This gives the vehicle much more speed and power and the ability to outperform the older models in every way.

This twin-engine technology is the reason that Malta is interested in the Lakota. Malta has widespread territorial waters, and the added speed, range and power that the Lakota offers makes monitoring those waters easier. Used mainly for maritime safety and security, the Lakota will benefit Malta greatly.

The Lakota is primarily designed for medical evacuations, as it has space for two stretchers. Its nine passenger capacity allows it to carry an entire team to an area of concern quickly and remove any people to safety with maximum efficiency.

The government doesn't know exactly when the new helicopters will be delivered, but they can't wait to use them over their extensive waters. Each vehicle costs six million euros to produce, but Malta will only be picking up half the tab. The U.S. is paying the other half.

Though there are still bugs in the design of the Lakota, production is on schedule. Tests in California have revealed the need for air conditioning units in the cockpit, as the temperature exceeded the maximum safe temperature designated by the U.S. military. In 80 degree weather, the cockpit reached just over 104 degrees, a fraction of a degree above the safe operating temperature. Air conditioning will help prevent systems from overheating. The Lakota is a military version of a commercial copter, which has air conditioning in the cockpit.

In the hands of the U.S., the Lakota is designed for medical evacuations, personnel recovery and counter-narcotics operations. Light duty helicopters aren't designed for offensive operations. Though only a few Lakotas have seen proper use, every helicopter is expected to be delivered by 2016.

When the island became a republic in 1974, it needed a military force. The Armed Forces of Malta were formed. This is the name given to the combined armed forces of the island. Though it's a small military force, it has a lot of space to cover. The Air Wing, which is receiving the Lakota, is responsible for airspace protection, as well as maritime patrol. Besides the Lakota, it has three other helicopters and six planes.

Malta has recently begun a campaign to bring in more young tourists. It was once considered the domain of wealthy retirees, but its core tourism demographic is starting to change. While it doesn't require a significant military force, it still must maintain its sovereignty and keep its visitors safe in the dangerous waters off the coast. With the Lakota, Malta will have the speed it needs to provide a safe holiday getaway.
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