Production is under way with a handshake.
The U.S. Air Force has reached a positive Milestone C decision to commence low-rate initial production for the MH-139 “Grey Wolf”, and Boeing and Leonardo have announced a contract for delivery of the first thirteen aircraft. The initiation of low-rate production will yield the first operational aircraft set to replace the U.S. Air Force's current fleet of UH-1N “Huey” helicopters, with first delivery slated for 2024.
The Grey Wolf is a multi-mission helicopter based on Leonardo's proven AW139 helicopter, of which over 1,130 are currently in service throughout the world, designed to protect intercontinental ballistic missile sites and transport U.S. government officials and security forces.
The strength of the MH-139A lies in the collaborative efforts of Leonardo as original equipment manufacturer, and Boeing, as prime contractor responsible for militarisation and support. Leonardo produces a multirole civil-certified helicopter at its plant in northeast Philadelphia, while Boeing is responsible for military equipment procurement and installation, as well as post-delivery support of the aircraft.
The manufacturers says that the MH-139A's capabilities allow it to accomplish missions quickly, quietly and efficiently. With a 50% increase in speed and range, and an increase of 5,000 pounds max gross weight, the aircraft is well positioned to execute the Air Force mission of protecting intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) sites across the United States.
The Boeing-Leonardo Team was awarded a $2.4 billion contract in September 2018 for up to 84 helicopters, training systems and associated support equipment. In August 2022, the U.S. Air Force accepted the first four helicopters that are now being used for additional developmental and initial operational testing.
“This decision is a major step toward entering the MH-139 into service and providing the U.S. Air Force with additional missile security for decades,” says Azeem Khan, Boeing's MH-139 program director. “We are working diligently to begin deliveries next year.”
“My team-mates at Leonardo, together with our partners at Boeing, are eager to continue our partnership and are fully committed to ensuring the fleet's success,” says Clyde Woltman, CEO of Leonardo Helicopters US.
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|Leonardo Helicopters||Final Assembly|
|Boeing Defense, Space & Security||Airframer|
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