USAF initiates Grey Wolf testing

The US Air Force (USAF) has officially started testing its newest helicopter, the MH-139A Grey Wolf, after it completed its first combined test flight.

The first test flight took place on February 11 at Eglin Air Force Base (AFB) in Florida. A pilot from Boeing commanded the flight, which enabled the USAF to get its first in-flight look at the MH-139A’s capabilities.

Maj Zach Roycroft of the 413th Flight Test Squadron – the first air force pilot to fly the Grey Wolf – was made the lead test pilot for the project. He said: “This first flight with Boeing was a critical step for the MH-139A [programme] and allows us to establish a foundation for government testing.”

MH-139A [USAF/Samuel King Jr] #1
MH-139A Grey Wolf - serial 18-1001 (c/n 41801) - lifts off for its first combined test flight on February 11 at Eglin AFB, Florida. USAF/Samuel King Jr

Boeing has completed extensive flight testing with the Grey Wolf in line with US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requirements prior to introducing mixed contractor and USAF crews to the cockpit. The programme should complete initial military ground testing later this month.

The MH-139A Grey Wolf – based on AgustaWestland’s AW139 – will replace the ageing Bell UH-1N Huey fleet in USAF service, which is currently employed to support and protect intercontinental ballistic missile fields – located in Colorado, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota and Wyoming – and off-base nuclear weapon convoys.

It will also take over the Huey's roles providing search and rescue, training and disaster response, as well as serving as a VIP transport to US security and government forces. The Grey Wolf will operate in support of the AFGSC, Air Force District of Washington, Air Education and Training Command, Air Force Materiel Command and Pacific Air Forces.