Grey Wolf completes another test

The MH-139A Grey Wolf successfully completed its first live hoist test.

The 413th Flight Test Squadron and the Air Force Global Strike Command Det. 7 worked together for the test.

The Grey Wolf is the MH-139A helicopter that will replace the Air Force’s UH-1N Huey fleet, which is used for at the three ICBM bases, as well as civil search and rescue, airlift support, National Capital Region missions and survival school and test support.

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According to AFGSC, the developmental test of the MH-139A is ongoing at Duke Field in Florida.

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Testing is set to be competed at the end of the year and when that happens, MH-139As will transition from Florida to Malmstrom for familiarization training for aircrew and support personnel for the initial operational test and evaluation in 2024, according to AFGSC.

Additional low-rate initial production helicopters will begin arriving at Malmstrom in late 2024 and early 2025 to begin initial operating capability, according to AFGSC.

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In February, the 413th Flight Test Squadron conducted austere landing testing at Malmstrom with the MH-139A.

The 413th FLTS tested the MH-139A’s ability to land in unprepared areas such as fields, a core capability of any rotary-wing aircraft, according to AFGSC.

The 413th FLTS team developed an obstacle course and performed a rigorous test of the aircraft’s landing gear at Duke Field in Florida to prepare for the trip to Montana, according to AFGSC.

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After the Duke Field tests, the 413th FLTS and Det. 7 aircrew took the Grey Wolf north to mountains over 9,000 feet with single-digit temperatures. Since the aircraft will eventually be stationed in Northern-tier bases, the Air Force is interested in testing its capabilities in cold weather and snow conditions that it will be operating in four to six months each year, according to AFGSC.

“Snow is a naturally unstable surface, and you don’t always know what is underneath it,” Maj. Jonathan Palka, 413th FLTS test pilot who piloted some of the snow missions, said in a release. “In deep snow, you’re never fully on the ground like you would be on other surfaces, you need to be prepared for the surface to shift. It just means you land a little more carefully and respect the potential of the surface to change.”