GRAND LEDGE (WWJ/AP) – An Army National Guard aviation facility near Lansing has received the first of four new helicopters for use in military missions, search and rescue efforts and other flights.

The Grand Ledge facility is getting the four UH-72 Lakota helicopters to replace its OH-58 Kiowa helicopters. According to military officials, the new helicopters are more efficient than many older models.

Warrant Officer Troy VanAlstine of Charlotte described flying the Lakota as “the difference between a Cadillac and a Chevette.”

“It’s newer; it’s faster; it’s more powerful. It’s a huge upgrade,” VanAlstine, a 15-year pilot, told the Lansing State Journal.

The new helicopters, which can fly at up to 160 miles per hour and have cargo-hauling and night vision capability, join existing Blackhawks as the primary helicopters used by the National Guard. The Kiowa helicopters will be phased out over the next year.

The Grand Ledge aviation facility, which has been at its current location since 1947, has 60 full-time personnel managing a fleet of 28 helicopters.

TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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