The U.S. Air Force has declared the MH-139A Grey Wolf helicopter ready for low-rate production, according to a Leonardo news release.
“On March 3, U.S. Air Force reached a positive Milestone C decision, which commences the start to low-rate initial production for the MH-139 “Grey Wolf”. Subsequently, Boeing and Leonardo have announced a contract for delivery of the first thirteen (13) aircraft,” Leonardo said in a statement.
As noted by the company, the new helicopter enters Low-Rate Initial Production with the first 13 aircraft scheduled to begin delivering in 2024.
The initiation of low-rate production will yield the first operational aircraft set to replace the U.S. Air Force’s current fleet of UH-1N “Huey” helicopters.
The Grey Wolf is a multi-mission helicopter based on Leonardo’s proven AW139 helicopter, designed to protect intercontinental ballistic missiles and transport U.S. government officials and security forces. It is based on the proven AW139, with over 1130 currently in service throughout the world.
“This decision is a major step toward entering the MH-139 into service and providing the U.S. Air Force with additional missile security for decades,” said Azeem Khan, Boeing’s MH-139 program director. “We are working diligently to begin deliveries next year.”
“My teammates at Leonardo, together with our partners at Boeing, are eager to continue our partnership and are fully committed to ensuring the fleet’s success.” said Clyde Woltman, CEO of Leonardo Helicopters US.
The strength of the MH-139A lies in the collaborative efforts of Leonardo as original equipment manufacturer, and Boeing, as prime contractor responsible for militarization and support. Leonardo produces a multirole civil-certified helicopter at its plant in northeast Philadelphia, while Boeing is responsible for military equipment procurement and installation, as well as post-delivery support of the aircraft. By offering a proven aircraft with the AW139 and integrating Boeing’s advanced technology, the US Air Force is assured the best helicopter for its critical mission set.
The MH-139A’s enhanced capabilities allow it to accomplish missions more quickly, quietly, and efficiently. With 50% increase in speed and range, and an increase of 5,000 pounds max gross weight, the aircraft is well positioned to execute the Air Force mission of protecting intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) sites across the United States.
The Boeing-Leonardo Team was awarded a $2.4 billion contract in September 2018 for up to 84 helicopters, training systems and associated support equipment. In August of 2022, the U.S. Air Force accepted the first four helicopters that are now being used for additional developmental and initial operational testing.