TACOMA, Wash. - An aviation regiment at the Washington National Guard is getting new helicopters for the first time in five decades.
The 1st Battalion, 168th Aviation Regiment is getting the six new UH-72 Lakota helicopters to replace OH-58 Kiowa helicopters, the News Tribune of Tacoma reported Tuesday.
The Washington National Guard has the Army's third-oldest fleet of Blackhawk helicopters and its oldest Chinook helicopter, which was built in 1952.
The battalion took possession of the first Lakota two weeks ago. With eight seats, the Lakota is larger than the four-seat Kiowa aircraft it's replacing. It will be used primarily for search-and-rescue missions, but will also be used to gather information to shape disaster responses.
The new helicopters will likely be based at Fairchild Air Force Base in Spokane while the Blackhawks and Chinooks will remain at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.