Boeing to deliver first US Grey Wolf helicopters this year
Boeing has said it would begin deliveries of the first MH-139A Grey Wolf multirole helicopters for the US Air Force (USAF) later this year.
The news came after the programme’s first operational helicopter moved out of the final production stage and took its first flight at the Leonardo Helicopters facility in Philadelphia late last month.
“We are committed to advancing this program and have achieved another significant milestone with the first production aircraft,” noted Azeem Khan, MH-139 programme director at Boeing. “This accomplishment positions us to complete outstanding testing and move closer to delivering this critical capability to the US Air Force.”
Last November, Boeing announced it would 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 USAF.
The Boeing MH-139 is the military variant of Leonardo’s AW139 helicopter. It was selected for the USAF’s US$2.4 billion UH-1N Huey Replacement Program in September 2018. The programme was valued at $2.4 billion for up to 84 helicopters, training devices and associated support equipment.
The Grey Wolf has an increased carrying capacity over the AW139 and will have a night vision goggles-compatible glass cockpit with advanced avionics and a four-axis digital autopilot with auto-hover.
Boeing and Leonardo suggested that the MH-139 could potentially save the service up to $1 billion in acquisition and through-life costs. The model, however, will need to be converted from a civil configuration, a process that has proved to be more difficult than anticipated, with delays in the FAA certification process also slowing the programme down.
Leonardo has been responsible for the assembly of the aircraft, while Boeing has been in charge of the integration of military-specific components. Should all options be exercised, all work for the USAF will be completed in 2031.
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