LEXINGTON — The Oklahoma National Guard said goodbye to the last of its OH-58 Kiowa helicopters Tuesday.
The last two helicopters left the Lexington Army Aviation Facility about 7:30 a.m. Tuesday, said Maj. Geoff Legler, a spokesman for the Oklahoma National Guard. The aircraft headed for Kentucky, where they will be upgraded and sent to new Army aviation units.
The Kiowa helicopters will be replaced by four new UH-72 Lakota helicopters. Those helicopters can hold up to 11 people.
The Kiowas were part of the Guard's search-and-rescue operations in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Oklahoma National Guard pilots have flown the helicopters for more than 20 years, Guard officials said. The Guard's Counterdrug Task Force used them to assist law enforcement agencies with drug arrests.
The older aircraft could carry one or two pilots and up to four other people.
The new UH-72 helicopters are able to hoist disaster victims during emergency situations.
Guard officials said the new Lakota helicopters will be in use for more than 20 years.