Malmstrom airmen attend training on new helicopter

A group of airmen from Malmstrom Air Force base traveled to Pennsylvania this summer for the first round of training on the MH-139A Grey Wolf helicopter that’s replacing the UH-1N Huey.

The 32-day training was held at Leonardo Helicopters Training Academy, according to a Malmstrom release.

Selection for the training was based on several factors, including crew position, experiences levels and time on station, according to Malmstrom.

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“This selection criteria ensures that the high-performing 40th Helicopter Squadron pilots and flight engineers offer a diverse sampling of the force for initial operational test and evaluation and can further support the MH-139A Grey Wolf transition for years to come,” according to Malmstrom.

The training for the helicopter air crews started together in the classroom, then pilots and flight engineers split into job specific tracks.

Pilots focused on ground academics and procedural trainers before moving into the simulator. Flight engineers did ground training to the simulator, then hoist and hook training to expand on their current insertion and extraction procedures, according to Malmstrom.

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“This training is important, at least to me, because it’s the first of its kind in Global Strike,” Tech. Sgt. William Sines, 40th HS flight engineer, said in a Malmstrom release. “We get to be the forefront of this ship; we get to create the techniques and producers for it and adapt what we know currently to develop the future.”

The Boeing-led training sets up the crew members to work with the recently established 550th Helicopter Squadron at Malmstrom to create a conversion course syllabus for the Huey aircrews.

The training will eventually be provided at other Air Force Global Strike Command bases, according to Malmstrom.

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The 550th plans to complete their qualification training at Malmstrom within the next 18 months, allowing them to move forward with operational tests and evaluations, according to Malmstrom. Then they’ll establish conversion training for the 40th air crews at Malmstrom and the other AFGSC Grey Wolf units.

“For a lot of us Huey air crew that have been around for a while, this is very important because it’s really the first step to getting this [new] aircraft towards initial operational capability,” Lt. Col. Williams, 550th commander, said in a release. “To send the first crews through training means that we are moving on the right track.”

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Hueys have been used for the last half century to support various missions, including airlifting emergency security forces; search and rescue; and security and surveillance of off-base nuclear weapons convoys.

The Grey Wolf is scheduled to replace Malmstrom’s Huey fleet by the end of 2024.