Boeing shifts towards low-rate MH-139A Grey Wolf production
Boeing has announced it will continue to transition towards the low-rate initial production of the MH-139A Grey Wolf helicopter after delivering the sixth and final test aircraft to the US Air Force (USAF). The delivery of the last helicopter, which took place last month, marked the completion of the programme’s research, development, test and evaluation (RDT&E) phase.
‘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,’ said Azeem Khan, MH-139 programme director at Boeing.
MH-139A aircraft will replace the UH-1N Huey and have been tasked with protecting intercontinental ballistic missiles across the US, as well astransporting VIP and security personnel. The replacement contract’s value has been set to approximately US$2.4 billion. Boeing is expected to provide the first low-rate production aircraft to the customer in 2024.
Up to 84 MH-139A Grey Wolf helicopters will be delivered to the USAF. To date, the service has awarded Boeing a contract for 13 helicopters, with the first aircraft already in final assembly, according to the manufacturer. Should all options be exercised, work will for completion in 2031.
The Boeing MH-139 has been designed as the military variant of Leonardo's AW139. Leonardo has been responsible for the assembly of the helicopter, while Boeing has been integrating military-specific components.
The companies had previously suggested that the MH-139 could potentially save the USAF up to $1 billion in acquisition and through-life costs. Although the model will have to be converted from its civil configuration, Boeing stated that the militarised version of the AW139 would be a cheaper option to acquire and less expensive than other models to maintain during its life cycle.
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