The Air Force accepted the first MH-139A helicopter Dec. 19 at Duke Field, Florida, and announced the rotorcraft’s new name: the “Grey Wolf.”
The aircraft is in development by Boeing [BA] and will replace the service’s aging Bell [TXT] UH-1N helicopters to provide security and support of the U.S. military’s intercontinental ballistic missile fields, civil search-and-rescue capabilities, airlift support and doomsday VIP transportation.
Air Force Global Strike Command Commander Gen. Timothy Ray announced the helicopter’s new name Thursday morning when it landed at Duke Field.
“As a pack animal, the Grey Wolf name represents our mission sets, which bring multiple #MH139s to the fight,” said Air Force Global Strike Command in a Thursday Twitter post.
The aircraft flew from Boeing’s manufacturing facility in Philadelphia to Duke Field, Boeing said in a Thursday release.
The command stood up Detachment 7 at Duke Field on Wednesday, which will help support testing and evaluation of the Grey Wolf aircraft. The detachment will coordinate with Air Force’ Materiel Command’s 413th Flight Test Squadron, the service’s current rotary test unit, and will eventually be moved to Malmstrom AFB, Montana, for additional testing and evaluation of the aircraft. Led by Lt. Col. Mary Clark, the detachment will own four helicopters and include pilots and special-mission aviators.
The Air Force awarded Boeing a contract worth $2.38 billion in September 2018 to include up to 84 MH-139A aircraft. The aircraft is based on Leonardo‘s commercial AW139 multi-mission helicopter and is being built in Philadelphia. Sikorsky [LMT] and Sierra Nevada Corp. [SNC] also competed for the contract.
The FY ’20 national security minibus bill fully funds the Air Force’s request of $171 million in research-and-development funds for the UH-1N Huey replacement program. Service FY ’20 budget justification documents released earlier this year showed that the Air Force plans to spend over $2.8 billion procuring the MH-139 across the five-year Future Years Defense Plan (FYDP) beginning in FY ‘21.
Over $195 million is set aside for procurement in FY ’21, rising over the next three years to nearly $407 million in FY ’24. Air Force officials previously projected the program will cost over $4 billion in total.