Air Force Global Strike Command named the MH-139A helicopter “Grey Wolf” during a naming ceremony at Duke Field, Dec. 19.
Gen. Timothy Ray, AFGSC commander, made the announcement, comparing it to the wild animal that bears the same name.
The Grey Wolf is the first major acquisition for the command in its 10-year history. The name Grey Wolf is derived from the wild species that roams the northern tier of North America, which also encompasses the intercontinental ballistic missile bases in AFGSC.
“It strikes fear in the hearts of many,” Ray said. “Its range is absolutely inherent to the ICBM fields we have.”
“As they hunt as a pack, they attack as one, they bring the force of many,” he continued. “That’s exactly how you need to approach the nuclear security mission.”
The helicopters will provide security and support for the nation’s ICBM fields which span Wyoming, Montana, North Dakota, Colorado and Nebraska. The new helicopter closes the capability gaps of the UH-1N Twin Hueys in the areas of speed, range, endurance, payload and survivability in support of the command’s ICBM missions. Other mission capabilities include civil search and rescue, airlift support, National Capital Region missions, as well as survival school and test support.
The roll out of the new helicopter demonstrates an asset providing ICBM security in support of U.S. Strategic Command’s nuclear deterrence operations aligned with the National Defense Strategy. The acquisition was contracted through Boeing during a full and open competition at a cost of $2.38 billion for up to 84 aircraft–$1.7 billion under budget. It is the command’s first commercial “off-the-shelf” purchase, adding military-unique modifications.
The Air Force will procure up to 84 MH-139A Grey Wolf helicopters, training devices and associated support equipment from Boeing.
“When I think about the issue in front of us, about moving forward in nuclear deterrence, when I stare down a wave of acquisition for essentially everything we do, I hope this particular program is a harbinger of very successful stories to follow not just for our command but for the good of the nation and for the good of our allies and partners,” Ray said.
The Grey Wolf will replace the UH-1N, which entered the operational Air Force in 1970.
The MH-139A Grey Wolf will provide vertical airlift and support the requirements of five Air Force major commands and operating agencies: AFGSC, Air Force District of Washington, Air Education and Training Command, Air Force Materiel Command and Pacific Air Forces. AFGSC is the lead command and operational capability requirements sponsor.