Boeiпg advaпces ɩow-rate іпіtіаɩ prodυctioп of the MH-139A Grey Wolf helicopter after completiпg the program’s Research, Developmeпt, teѕt & Evalυatioп (RDT&E) phase, deliveriпg the sixth aпd fiпal teѕt aircraft to the U.S. Air foгсe last moпth. Boeiпg expects to provide the first ɩow-rate prodυctioп aircraft to the cυstomer iп 2024. To date, the Air foгсe has awarded Boeiпg a coпtract to bυild the first 13, with the first aircraft already iп fiпal assembly. Ultimately, Boeiпg will deliver υp to 80 MH-139A Grey Wolf helicopters to the Air foгсe.
With the initial test flights completed successfully, we’re heading into an exciting phase. With the MH-139, the United States Air Force is acquiring a versatile and more cost-effective solution to replace them into a new era of service for this mission,” said Robert Bass, MH-139 Program Manager, Leonardo Helicopters US. “Leonardo is incredibly proud of this achievement, and we look forward to the continued partnership with Boeing and the USAF as we deliver essential Grey Wolf helicopters.
Delivering all of the RDT&E aircraft to the Air Force enables them to continue critical operational testing and allows Boeing to accelerate delivery of the first operational aircraft,” said Aziz Khan, MH-139 Program Director. “The Grey Wolf will provide crucial operational capability enhancements to the Air Force. This is an important step in transitioning the aircraft into service.
The Boeing MH-139 is derived from the AW139 helicopter, which was built in Philadelphia and has a fleet of almost 900 aircraft. It has served more than 250 customers worldwide, accumulating over 1.7 million flight hours. The AugustaWestland AW139, now known as the Leonardo AW139, is a medium-sized twin-engine helicopter developed and manufactured by the Anglo-Italian helicopter company AugustaWestland (now part of Leonardo). It is marketed in several variants, including VIP/corporate transport, military use, search and rescue, law enforcement, offshore operations, emergency medical services, utility, and maritime patrol. A dedicated military variant, the AW139M, was also developed by AugustaWestland and was initially adopted by the Italian Air Force.
On 24 September 2018, the U.S. Air Force announced that the MH-139, an AW139 variant, was selected as the winner of a competition to replace the Vietnam-era Bell UH-1N helicopters. The service plans to acquire up to 84 MH-139s. On 19 December 2019, the USAF received the first MH-139A Grey Wolf at the Ellington Air Force Base. Flight testing for the service commenced in 2020, with several operational activities being evaluated, such as the positioning of the aircraft in the missile silo facility and meeting the specific operational requirements set by USAF officials. As an alternative to the previously discussed options, the possibility of using commercial off-the-shelf components has also been considered. In early March 2023, the USAF received a positive Milestone C decision and issued a $285 million LRIP contract for the first 13 MH-139s, with low-rate initial production expected to begin soon.