Military Review

Multipurpose helicopter MH-139A. Gray Wolf for Global Strike Command


On December 19, the US Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC), as part of the ceremony, received the first production helicopter of the MH-139A type. This machine must pass military tests, after which full-scale deliveries of serial equipment will begin. New helicopters will be used to ensure the security of strategic nuclear forces.

Helicopter for replacement

AFGSC is responsible for the operation of strategic silo-based missile systems. Various means are used to protect such objects, including patrol helicopters. Currently, the main specimen of this kind is the Bell UH-1N Huey, however, it has long been outdated and needs a modern replacement.

At the end of 2016, AFGSC launched a competition for the selection of a new sample aviation technicians. One of the participants in the program was Boeing, which proposed the project MH-139 - a modified version of the European-designed Leonardo (AgustaWestland) AW139 helicopter.

The first production helicopter MH-139A at the Duke Field base, December 19, 2019.

In September 2018, the Boeing company with its project won the competition and received a contract for the supply of equipment. The main competitive advantage of the MH-139 was the lower cost of construction and operation. Under the terms of the contract, the supply of 84 helicopters, maintenance and training of personnel will cost taxpayers $ 2,4 billion. Competing projects required funding of 3,5–4 billion.

First samples

On December 19, a ceremony was held at the Duke Field Air Force Base (Florida) to hand over the first helicopter built under last year’s contract. AFGSC received this vehicle and transferred it to the 413rd Test Squadron.

The new technology is given the official designation MH-139A and the name Gray Wolf ("Gray Wolf"). It is curious that the helicopter for the Air Force retained its original factory designation and is knocked out of the previously used “through” army numbering. The name "Gray Wolf" was chosen because of the characteristic features of this animal - strength, endurance and ability to adapt to different conditions. The new helicopter is expected to be the same. Wolf Packs, consisting of the MH-139A, will carry out lengthy patrols and seek out an enemy threatening missile silos.

So far, the 413rd squadron will have to test only one new type of helicopter. In January and February, three more cars will be handed over to her. Such a group of equipment will undergo military tests for about a year, after which full-fledged deliveries of serial equipment for mastering combat units will start.

Future series

New deliveries of equipment in large quantities will begin in fiscal year 2021. By the end of the twenties, it is planned to purchase 80 helicopters - taking into account the testing equipment, the total number will reach 84 units. Also ordered the necessary additional equipment, maintenance services and training of pilots.

Helicopters MH-139A will be built at the Leonardo Helicopters factory (formerly AgustaWestland) in Philadelphia, which already has an AW139 machine assembly line. Unfinished and understaffed helicopters will be transferred to the Boeing plant (formerly Boeing Vertol) in the same place in Philadelphia. The task of this enterprise will be the installation of various equipment that distinguishes the Gray Wolf from the base AW139.

The main objective of the new helicopters will be patrolling to protect AFGSC ground facilities. For this, most of the MH-139A will be deployed at air bases near missile systems. The appearance of such equipment at the aerodromes of the states of Montana, North Dakota and Maryland is expected. Helicopters will also appear in several training squadrons at other bases.

Existing UH-1N helicopters, if necessary, are used as vehicles for representatives of the military and political leadership of the country. MH-139A is likely to receive this role.

According to the technical requirements of the competition, new helicopters must have a service life of at least 30 years. Annual flight time - at least 480 hours per car. The supply of new equipment will gradually decommission and decommission obsolete UH-1Ns built back in the seventies.

Advantages of the Wolf

The adopted Boeing / Leonardo MH-139A helicopter will have to replace obsolete equipment and take on its tasks. At the same time, performing the required work will be noticeably simpler and cheaper with a significant increase in efficiency.

The project MH-139A is based on the well-known and well-developed platform in the form of an AW139 multi-purpose helicopter. This machine has been manufactured since the beginning of the XNUMXs, and to date, about a thousand copies have been delivered to customers. The helicopter shows a fairly high technical and operational characteristics. Depending on the needs of the customer, he can carry a variety of equipment and even weapons.

The joint project of Boeing and Leonardo provides for the processing of the base helicopter to the requirements of AFGSC. First of all, this applies to instrumentation for solving basic problems. At the same time, some features of the helicopter remain unchanged. Due to this, allegedly, it was possible to ensure maximum unification with other equipment and simplify operation, as well as provide a complete solution to combat and transport missions.

MH-139A surpasses UH-1N helicopters in a number of flight characteristics, which simplifies patrolling. To monitor the ground situation, it has a block of optoelectronic equipment and other devices. Installation of other equipment is possible. There is a spacious cabin in which you can accommodate up to 15 people or the corresponding load. There are several points for installing weapons.

In this configuration, the helicopter can monitor the territories around the missile bases and look for intruders. When they are detected, the landing of the capture group is possible. Like its predecessors, the new Gray Wolf helicopters will also be used as training and as transportation for dignitaries.

Upbeat future

Recent events are of great importance to the US Air Force Global Strike Command. The modern multi-purpose helicopter MH-139A allows you to solve a serious problem with obsolescence of available equipment and ensure the normal service of the ground components of the strategic nuclear forces for several decades to come.

The position areas of the missile units need various means of defense, including in aviation technology for patrolling and transporting fighters. At the moment, such tasks, which are of particular importance for the defense of the United States, are solved with the help of long-obsolete helicopters. In 2021, they will be replaced by modern designs with higher characteristics and wide capabilities. The new Gray Wolves will replace the Huey and take their place over the next 30 years.

However, while the combat duty of the MH-139A helicopters remains a matter of the future. The first helicopter of this type, transferred to AFGSC the other day, is intended for military trials. Soon, three more helicopters will join him. At the same time, a full-fledged service of new equipment will begin only in a year or more, and it will take several more years to completely re-equip the squadrons. However, the modernization process has already begun, and the US Air Force no longer has any reason for serious pessimism.
Photos used:
Boeing Company /, US Air Force

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  1. The comment was deleted.
  2. Sergey_G_M
    Sergey_G_M 23 December 2019 19: 21
    At the same time, performing the required work will be noticeably simpler and cheaper with a significant increase in efficiency.

    I understand that manufacturers feed their customers with various praises and advertising slogans, but it’s completely unclear from the article how it will be easier and cheaper. It seems an article for the site, and not for the customers of this helicopter.
    1. eagle owl
      eagle owl 23 December 2019 19: 35
      And who said that it is generally easier and cheaper? First, this is the US Department of Defense, they do not know the word "cheaper". And secondly - there is a Boeing lying around, which means neither "simpler" nor "better" - it does not shine. They don't fucking fly. Starliner won't fly yesterday. Boeing 737 max is out of production altogether. 767 another yesterday - with an accident, again in the engine. 777 crashed in a crash test. The tanker is not sawed, although he should have been in the army for 2 years already. One word - B ... B ... Boeing laughing
      1. L-39NG
        L-39NG 23 December 2019 21: 35
        Usually, judging by the comments, the whole west caves in under America. In this case, America caved in to Italy, and Russia too. And Putin and Medvedev fly these machines, though I don’t know if the originals or Russian screwdriver assemblies.
    2. Undecim
      Undecim 23 December 2019 19: 49
      due to which it will be easier and cheaper
      Compared to UH-1N, operating costs are reduced, the overhaul life is increased, and the labor costs for maintenance and repair are reduced.
      Given that the UH-1N Hueys in operation today have been flying for the most part since 1969, that is, 50 years, all of the above is completely real.
      1. The comment was deleted.
      2. eagle owl
        eagle owl 23 December 2019 21: 46
        What is the cost of flying time? What is the cost of the helicopter itself? So what about cheaper - obviously not about the PentAOG
        1. Undecim
          Undecim 23 December 2019 22: 03
          Where - there and there? Specify the flow of thought.
          1. eagle owl
            eagle owl 23 December 2019 22: 08
            Hu ... Hugh and this Gray Wolf. In general, what did you compare and what - did you manage to forget it already?
            1. Undecim
              Undecim 23 December 2019 22: 29
              Are you asking me a question? Judging by your comment, you are extremely informed and know how much it costs, what is unfinished, who failed the tests, that everything is expensive in the US Department of Defense. Can you share the numbers?
              1. eagle owl
                eagle owl 23 December 2019 22: 35
                I'm asking you. And then you were smart, looking at the finger from which you sucked out your information, and let's move the arrows on. You are an expert on service prices, so tell us. About prices
                1. Undecim
                  Undecim 23 December 2019 22: 45
                  And where do you suck your information from? If the meaning of my comment is incomprehensible to you and raises similar questions and remarks, then the problem is not in the comment. It’s just that you greatly overestimate your abilities and you should work on this issue. You will look at the world with different eyes. All the best and academic success.
                  1. eagle owl
                    eagle owl 23 December 2019 23: 15
                    You don’t translate arrows. First, tell us how you got it about cheaper - yourself.
  3. gridasov
    gridasov 23 December 2019 19: 35
    What does it mean to lose one of the leaders of the global strike command? What does it mean to lose the leader responsible for one of the key areas of leadership in the army, and even at the most crucial moment. And now let's remember how many similar losses occurred in the past. And all because of the reassessment of helicopter flight safety. Top-level leaders must be provided with aircraft with an absolute degree of flight safety. But, for this at least, you need to understand that their own lives depend on projects and developments of new types of propulsion and engines based on them.
  4. Observer2014
    Observer2014 23 December 2019 21: 04
    Thanks for answering my question.
    Observer 2014 9 December 21, 2019 18:08
    Why is this "Gray Wolf" better than "Black Hawk Down"?
    hi It was interesting to read.
  5. zxc15682
    zxc15682 24 December 2019 08: 37
    ------------------------ belay
  6. samaravega
    samaravega 24 December 2019 08: 38
    Dear "admins" of the site! Throw this "afftor" in the neck! No specific information, continuous reprints of advertising articles, either about the armed forces of the Russian Federation or about "foreign countries". Complete ignorance of the material and complete lack of answers to criticism. Don't dishonor the site!
    1. zombee
      zombee 25 December 2019 12: 04
      and this is not the British Links?
      1. samaravega
        samaravega 25 December 2019 13: 06
        It is rather a symbiosis of solutions in terms of the scheme, fuselage, aerodynamics of the Lynx with the engines and the support system (propeller, gearbox, etc.) of the A-129.