U.S. Air Force’s New MH-139 Helicopter Named Grey Wolf

The U.S. Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC) named the MH-139 helicopter, the “Grey Wolf” during a naming ceremony at Duke Field, Fla. on Dec. 19.

Gen. Timothy Ray, AFGSC commander, made the announcement following the arrival of the first helicopter at Duke Field and compared the helicopter to the wild animal that bears the same name.

The MH-139A Grey Wolf is the first major acquisition for the command in its 10-year history. The name Grey Wolf is derived from the wild species that roams the northern tier of North America, which also encompasses the Intercontinental Ballistic Missile bases in AFGSC.

“It strikes fear in the hearts of many,” Ray said. “Its range is absolutely inherent to the ICBM fields we have. As they hunt as a pack, they attack as one, they bring the force of many,” he said. “That’s exactly how you need to approach the nuclear security mission.”

Yesterday, AFGSC formally stood up new detachment, called Detachment 7, at Duke Field to support testing and evaluation of the command’s new MH-139A helicopter with Lt. Col. Mary Clark assuming command of the detachment.

The Detachment 7, comprised of pilots and special mission aviators, will manage a total of four MH-139 helicopters. The second aircraft is due to arrive mid-January 2020, while the third and fourth aircraft are scheduled to arrive in February.

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.

MH-139 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.

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