Leonardo has delivered the 300th AW139 helicopter, an MH-139A Grey Wolf variant, built at its Philadelphia, USA facility, the company announced on Twitter.
We are proud to announce that we have built and delivered the 300th #AW139 from our home in #Philadelphia. The 300th aircraft was an #MH139 #GreyWolf to @BoeingDefense for the US @AFGlobalStrike #SimplyNoRivals pic.twitter.com/rVRaoB28dp
— Leonardo Helicopters (@LDO_Helicopters) January 28, 2020
The MH-139A Grey Wolf helicopter was delivered to Boeing Defense, who is the prime contractor for the U.S. Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC)’s UH-1N replacement program for which MH-139 was selected.
MH-139A Grey Wolf
The MH-139A Grey Wolf is the first service-unique helicopter acquired by the U.S. Air Force and the first aircraft ever acquired by the U.S. Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC).
The helicopters were acquired from Boeing through a full and open competition at a cost of $2.8 billion ($1.7 billion under budget) for up to 84 aircraft under the USAF UH-1N replacement program. The MH-139 derives from the Italian Leonardo/AgustaWestland AW139 helicopter and is the AFGSC’s first commercial “off-the-shelf” purchase, adding military-unique modifications.
The helicopters, which will replace the early 1970s UH-1N “Hueys”, will provide security and support for the nation’s intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) fields which span Wyoming, Montana, North Dakota, Colorado and Nebraska. The new helicopter closes the capability gaps of the UH-1N in the areas of speed, range, endurance, payload and survivability in support of the command’s intercontinental ballistic missile missions. Other mission capabilities include civil search and rescue (SAR), airlift support, National Capital Region (NCR) missions, as well as survival school and test support.
Current UH-1N Huey locations include Eglin Air Force Base’s Duke Field, Florida; Fairchild AFB, Washington; FE Warren AFB, Wyoming; Joint Base Andrews-Naval Air Facility Washington, Maryland; Kirtland AFB, New Mexico; Malmstrom AFB, Montana; and Minot AFB, North Dakota. Each of these existing Huey bases will receive replacement aircraft, the service announced last year.
The MH-139A helicopters will also provide vertical airlift and support the requirements of four other Air Force major commands and operating agencies: Air Force District of Washington (AFDW), Air Education and Training Command (AETC), Air Force Materiel Command (AFMC) and Pacific Air Forces (PACAF). AFGSC is the Air Force lead command and operational capability requirements sponsor.
The Air Force received its first MH-139A helicopter at Duke Field, Fla. on Dec. 19, 2019, following which a naming ceremony was conducted officially naming the helicopter “Grey Wolf”.
A day before the arrival of the new helicopter, the AFGSC stood up new detachment, called Detachment 7, at Duke Field to support testing and evaluation of the MH-139A helicopter. The Detachment 7, comprised of pilots and special mission aviators, will manage a total of four MH-139 helicopters.
The detachment will work in conjunction with Air Force Materiel Command (AFMC)’s 413th Flight Test Squadron (413 FLTS), the Air Force’s only dedicated rotary test unit. Currently, the unit resides in temporary administrative and hangar facilities on Duke Field. The detachment will eventually move to Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana, to perform additional testing and evaluation of the aircraft.