Test pilots qualify on helicopter that will replace Malmstrom’s Hueys

The Air Force is a step closer to fielding the Boeing MH-139 helicopter that will replace the UH-1N Huey flown at missile bases, including Malmstrom Air Force Base.

Test pilots from the 413th Flight Test Squadron became the first Air Force pilots to receive a Type rating on the AW-139 helicopter at the end of July, according to an Air Force release.

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Maj. Zach Roycroft and Tony Arrington completed the five-week contracted course on the civilian counterpart to the Air Force’s new MH-139 helicopter.

“This puts our team one step closer to flight testing the new aircraft when production is completed,” Roycroft said in a release. He’s the lead MH-139 test pilot for the squadron.

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“Ultimately, it puts the Air Force one step closer to delivery of a much-needed increase in capability,” he said in the release.

Earlier this year, a base official said Malmstrom was scheduled to be the first base to receive the new helicopters and construction is underway on several projects to make way for the new aircraft.

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A Type rating is an U.S. Federal Aviation Administration qualification for a specific aircraft.

As the test pilots were in flight training, 413th FLTS and Air Force Global Strike Command airmen were completing the maintenance technician course for the same aircraft. Those airmen are also being trained on the unique systems included in the MH-139 like the hoist and cargo hook, according to the Air Force release.

The knowledge gathered from the training will allow the Airmen to safely operate the aircraft systems, perform effective developmental testing and teach their counterparts, Tech. Sgt. Joe Kendall, a 413th FLTS special mission aviator, said in the release.

The MH-139 delivery marks the first time in recent history the Air Force will receive a rotary wing asset not previously used in another branch of the military, according to the release.

The Air Force plans to purchase 84 MH-139 helicopters over the next decade. The first aircraft delivery to the 413th FLTS is scheduled for late November, according to the release.