Military Aviation

Boeing delivered four MH-139A Grey Wolf test aircraft to the USAF as the service prepares to replace its aging fleet of UH-1N helicopters to protect intercontinental ballistic missiles

The MH-139A Grey Wolf is a multi-mission aircraft – based on the proven commercial AW139 helicopter – designed to protect intercontinental ballistic missiles and transport US government officials and security forces.

Boeing has delivered four MH-139A Grey Wolf test aircraft to the US Air Force (USAF) as the service prepares to replace its aging fleet of UH-1N helicopters.

The Grey Wolf is a multi-mission aircraft – based on the proven commercial AW139 helicopter – designed to protect intercontinental ballistic missiles and transport US government officials and security forces. Boeing was awarded a $2.4 billion contract in Sept. 2018 for 80 helicopters, training systems and associated support equipment.

“The Grey Wolf is a modern, versatile aircraft offering greater range, speed and endurance than the UH-1N Huey it replaces,” said Mark Cherry, vice president and general manager of Boeing Vertical Lift, in a company news release. “I am proud of our team who, along with our partner Leonardo, helped us to achieve this milestone – a tremendous first step in a long line of Grey Wolf deliveries.”

The delivery milestone follows receipt of the Federal Aviation Administration-issued supplemental type certificate, required to commence deliveries. With aircraft in hand, the Air Force will now proceed with Military Utility Testing as the program progresses toward Milestone C.

“We are thrilled that the first four MH-139As have been accepted by the U.S. Air Force,” said Clyde Woltman, chief executive officer, Leonardo Helicopters US “This aircraft is well-positioned to become an important asset in the defense and security of the United States.”

With unmatched systems integration, a state-of-the-art avionics system, and advanced flight deck functionality, the modern MH-139A provides unrivaled operational flexibility and performance that will serve the USAF for decades to come. Key benefits of the aircraft include:

• Cruises 50% faster, flies 50% farther, has a 30% larger cabin, and can lift 5,000 more pounds than the legacy platform, while introducing full autopilot capability to reduce pilot workload

• State-of-the-art avionics system with advanced flight deck functionality and improved situational awareness resulting in reduced crew workload

• Right-sized aircraft for maximum operational efficiency and lower operating & support costs

• An off-the-shelf, readily available solution that leverages repurposed technologies from proven Boeing Rotorcraft programs to guarantee performance, flexibility & safety

Leonardo produces the helicopter at its plant in northeast Philadelphia, while Boeing is responsible for military equipment procurement ad installation, and post-delivery support of the aircraft.

Boeing has the most advanced military rotorcraft in the world, renowned for leading-edge solutions that deliver proven capabilities. With 60 years of expertise and a global fleet over 2,500 strong — comprising the AH-6 Little Bird, AH-64 Apache, V-22 Osprey and H-47 Chinook aircraft, and in-development entrants, including the MH-139A Grey Wolf and DEFIANT X — Boeing advances missions ranging from precision attack and reconnaissance to medium and heavy lift operations.

Photo credit: U.S. Air Force

Two of the four newly acquired MH-139A Grey Wolf Helicopters sit in a hangar at Duke Field, Fla., Aug. 23, 2022. The aircraft is set to replace the U.S Airforce’s UH-1N Huey aircraft fleet and is poised to begin developmental testing as the program marks significant progress toward Milestone C.
Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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