U.S. Air Force Selects Maxwell AFB to Host MH-139A Grey Wolf Formal Training Unit
The U.S. Secretary of the Air Force (SECAF) selected Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama as the preferred location to host the MH-139A Grey Wolf Formal Training Unit (FTU).
The MH-139 FTU’s mission is to train pilots in providing security and support for the nation’s intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) fields spanning Wyoming, Montana, North Dakota, Colorado and Nebraska. The MH-139 mission will replace the mission of the Air Force Reserve’s 908th Airlift Wing’s aging C-130Hs currently at Maxwell AFB.
“As the lead command for the Air Force’s MH-139 helicopter fleet, bringing the MH-139 FTU online is an important step to ensure the nation’s Nuclear Triad remains safe, secure, effective and ready,” said Gen. Tim Ray, commander of Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC).
The new helicopter closes the capability gaps of the UH-1N Huey in the areas of speed, range, endurance, payload and survivability in support of AFGSC’s ICBM 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.
“The MH-139 will be an absolute game changer providing increased intercontinental ballistic missile security in support of USSTRATCOM nuclear deterrence operations,” Ray added. “The Grey Wolf will bring significantly improved capabilities, ready to rapidly deliver more defenders to missile fields while also providing increased convoy security.”
The Air Force will now conduct an environmental impact analysis before making its final basing decision in the winter of 2021. The first aircraft are scheduled to arrive in 2023.
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 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”.