Boeing has announced its transition towards the low-rate initial production of the MH-139A Grey Wolf, following the completion of the program’s Research, Development, Test & Evaluation (RDT&E) phase.

The final RDT&E aircraft was delivered to the U.S. Air Force in October, marking a significant milestone for the project.

Azeem Khan, MH-139 program director at Boeing, commented, “Delivering all of the RDT&E aircraft to the Air Force enables them to continue critical operational testing and allows Boeing to focus on building the first production aircraft.” He further added, “The Grey Wolf will provide crucial national security capability improvements to the Air Force. This is an important step in getting the aircraft into service.

Boeing is scheduled to deliver the first production aircraft in 2024. The Air Force has already awarded Boeing a contract for the first 13 aircraft, with the initial one currently in final assembly. The contract has the potential to expand up to 80 MH-139A Grey Wolf helicopters.

Robert Beyer, MH-139 Senior Program Manager at Leonardo Helicopters US, stated, “With the final test aircraft delivered, we’re headed into an exciting production phase. With the MH-139, the United States Air Force is getting a faster and more capable aircraft to bring them into a new era of service for this mission.

The MH-139A is set to replace the UH-1N Huey. Its primary roles include protecting intercontinental ballistic missiles across the U.S. and transporting VIP and security personnel.

You can read more about this by clicking here.

Tom has spent the last 13 years working in the defence industry, specifically military and commercial shipbuilding. His work has taken him around Europe and the Far East, he is currently based in Scotland.
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

22 Comments
oldest
newest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
monkey spanker
monkey spanker
1 month ago

This will be a good improvement over the old Hueys. Those old birds have served their country well.
Wish the U.K. would hurry up and get a new medium helicopter.

Andrew D
Andrew D
1 month ago
Reply to  monkey spanker

Don’t think our government will make a decision till after the election .🤔

Richard Beedall
Richard Beedall
1 month ago
Reply to  Andrew D

The NMH does project seem to have dropped down the priority list, also the expected buy is reportedly now just 35 helo’s, which would make the business case for establishing a UK assembly line very weak. Just buying a few dozen helo’s directly off existing Boeing or Sikorsky production lines would probably be the MODs preferred option, but politically unpopular. The government is indeed probably deferring a decision until after the next general election next year.

Andrew D
Andrew D
1 month ago

HMG do need a wake up call ⏰

AlexS
AlexS
1 month ago

Things will move when a Puma crashes by oldeness and hurt someone.

Steve
Steve
1 month ago
Reply to  AlexS

And then they will be pulled from service and the capability silently dropped. They need to be replaced before or there is a good chance it will happen.

Louis
Louis
1 month ago

When the Gov still owned HM Coastguards helicopters before being contracted out to Bristow, 10 AW189s were built at Yeovil. 35 is more than enough for a production line.

Jonathan
Jonathan
1 month ago

35 would be fine, the important thing is getting another production line for rotors in the UK and preserving the sovereign capability. The Leonardo site that is going to be the future of heavyweight autonomous rotor production in the Uk as well as tilt rotor…But that’s the future and the government need to keep investing in it now for it to have that future…without a workforce and viable heavy rotor manufacturing hub ( which is what you have in west Somerset) you loss that future….an off the self U.S. buy may seem sound for present need but is strategically no… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Jonathan
monkey spanker
monkey spanker
1 month ago
Reply to  Jonathan

The helicopter plant does have a future. It must be doing some work since wildcat production finished. Lots of good ideas coming out with future helicopter craft.
The U.K. is going to need the medium helicopter and a replacement for merlin. Now perhaps that may be a newer updated version merlin teaming with drone aircraft.

Quentin D63
Quentin D63
1 month ago
Reply to  monkey spanker

Hi MS, has Wildcat production absolutely finished? I thought i read somewhere there building some for an unidentified customer? Phillipines might need a few more with there expanding fleet, maybe Thailand too. And Korea already has. Wonder if they’ll take more? Wonder if AW would look at “stretched Wildcat” to take on the Seahawk? NZ I think is also looking at new helos to replace it Seasprites. And what about Ukraine for opportunities?

Last edited 1 month ago by Quentin D63
Richard Beedall
Richard Beedall
1 month ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Airbus’ CEO says the order could now be as few as 25 NMH’s based on the latest info they have received from the MOD. The recently announced purchase (13 Nov) by the MOD of 6 smaller and cheaper Airbus H145M’s has eaten in to the NMH programme numbers. I wouldn’t be surprised if the whole project was cancelled at this stage. Even if another dozen H145M’s were purchased to fill other gaps, over £1 billion would be freed up for other urgent defence projects.

Jonathan
Jonathan
1 month ago

Hi Richard, I’m not sure what other gaps the H145m could fill it’s a light civilian rotor ( 3000kg range). It’s only really good for short range SAR roles for Bruni and Cyprus, which is what it’s purchased for. To be honest I never understood why on earth they were going to use a medium lift military rotor for that job anyway, it was a bonkers waste of cash…remember the raf already have a fleet of 7 Jupiter HT1 which are actually H145 rotors so the raf has just extended the fleet effectively with the 6 SAR versions in a… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago

expected buy is reportedly now just 35 helo’s”

I’d take that right now, considering the Brunei and Cyprus roles have been filled by a buy of 6 others helis, allowing those 35 to concentrate on their core roles.

Beyond that, by the 44 Blackhawks that are needed, OTS, right now.

Jonathan
Jonathan
1 month ago

It was alway a bit bonkers planning to use a full fat medium lift military rotor for a function that is actually best undertaken by a light weight civilian rotor…so agree it’s a good pragmatic buy..that will save a bit of cash in the long run ( why buy new medium lift for this function) as well as free up 6 medium lifts back to their proper job. As for the new medium lifts I think they are going to…hold out and keep Puma running into 2028… now you know I’m not in agreement around the black hawk ( I… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Evening J.
Yep, your reasoning makes sense. As always, politics over need.
Agree on Puma.

Richard Beedall
Richard Beedall
1 month ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Public domain information on the programme has become very confusing, e.g. Airbus is suggesting that the order may now be for as few as 25 NHMs. The RAF has a large fleet of Chinooks (currently 52 in active service?), which don’t seem to be heavily utilised. Buying 25 new (Polish built) or refurbished Black Hawk’s to supplement these might just be sufficient to meet operational needs, whilst saving a pile of money. Poland will love the offset against its recent arms purchases from the UK, and it may enable more.

Jonathan
Jonathan
1 month ago

Yes I’m not sure what they will buy…I think to be honest a lot will depend on politics over anything else…but numbers wise I would say you are right 25-30..I would plump for 30 as the lower limit of the original procurement was 36 and they have now purchase the 6 H145s..so I agree it’s not going to be a big buy….and I would not in anyway be surprised if it went to 25…I honestly think they will buy something built in the the UK..politics and all that.

klonkie
klonkie
1 month ago

Ahh Daniele- 44 Blackhawks, finger crossed! I imagine though the preferred option will be the AW offering- local jobs etc. I believe the ACC Gazelles have now retired. Hopefully one will find a home with AAC museum.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago
Reply to  klonkie

Yep, when do they ever put military need, at an affordable price vs number acquired, ahead of local jobs and politics? You can bet your right arm on an AW product and too few ordered.
Yes, Gazelle has retired.

klonkie
klonkie
1 month ago

cheers Bud, agreed

Cygnet261
Cygnet261
1 month ago
Reply to  klonkie

Lynx was a great help but wildcat is a step up. Build more of these.

monkey spanker
monkey spanker
1 month ago

What’s in Russian service? The greywolf variant isn’t.
There was a joint venture to produce the AW139 in Russia under a company called helivert. Hard to see if anything actually happened. It was signed before Russia went full anti west/nut job next door.
Don’t think any variants are in service with the Russian military. Sanctions must be a real pain if these helicopters are operated.