Military and Strategic Journal
Issued by the Directorate of Morale Guidance at the General Command of the Armed Forces
United Arab Emirates
Founded in August 1971

2020-03-01

U.S. Air Force Embraces the MH-139A Grey Wolf

The United States Air Force (USAF) Global Strike Command’s (AFGSC) new helicopter now has an official name: the MH-139A Grey Wolf. The name was announced by USAF General Timothy Ray at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida on 19th December last year when the first MH-139A received by the USAF. 
 
Replacing the UH-1N, Boeing’s Grey Wolf is the first major acquisition in the USAF’s10-year history and pays homage to an extremely adaptable species which, like the MH-139A, is renowned for its power, endurance and ability to roam large distances. As a pack animal, the Grey Wolf represents the Air Force’s mission sets, which bring multiple aircraft to the fight over wide geographical areas of the United States represented by Air Force Global Strike Command and the Air Force District of Washington. 
 
General Timothy Ray, Commander of Air Force Global Strike Command, revealed the name following a ceremonial flight from Philadelphia to Duke Field, while Boeing Defence, Space and Security President Leanne Caret also spoke about the new arrival.
 
“The U.S. Air Force and Boeing are united by a common sense of purpose: service to others,” said CEO Caret. “When I think about our relationship, I see it as a partnership. Together, we’re solving how to respond to threats, for today and tomorrow, to keep this country and our allies safe.”
 
 “The Boeing MH-139A Grey Wolf was chosen to serve and replace the iconic Huey fleet for the Air Force. We take this responsibility very seriously,” confirmed Andy Builta, Vice-President of Boeing Cargo and Utility Helicopters. “This platform provides a new level of safety, security and agility for the Air Force to protect our most sensitive assets.” 
 
Ready to Serve
Based on the proven commercial AW139 helicopter, Boeing’s MH-139A Grey Wolf is designed to protect intercontinental ballistic missiles while transporting U.S. government officials and security forces, providing an off-the-shelf solution combining performance, operational flexibility and safety. Made in the U.S. but capitalising on a global supply network with more than 250 customers, 900 aircraft and two million flight hours, the Boeing MH-139A will deliver unrivalled affordability, supportability and reliability for substantial life cycle savings.
 
The intercontinental ballistic missile fields in question span Wyoming, Montana, North Dakota, Colorado and Nebraska, regarding which the Grey Wolf will close the capability gaps of the UH-1N “Hueys” in areas of speed, range, endurance, payload and survivability. Other mission capabilities include civil search-and-rescue, airlift support, National Capital Region missions, survival school and test support.
 
The new helicopter is an asset providing Intercontinental Ballistic Missile security in support of U.S. Strategic Command’s nuclear deterrence operations contracted through Boeing during a full and open competition. With military-unique modifications added, the Air Force will procure up to 84 Grey Wolves, training devices and associated support equipment from Boeing as prime contractor in a deal valued at U.S. $2.38 billion, U.S. $1.7 billion under budget with initial readiness for 2021.
 
The MH-139A Grey Wolf will provide vertical airlift to support the requirements of five Air Force major commands and operating agencies: Air Force Global Strike Command, Air Force District of Washington, Air Education and Training Command, Air Force Materiel Command and Pacific Air Forces. Global strike is the lead command and operational capability requirements sponsor, in line with which the U.S. Air Force MH-139 will be equipped with a sensor turret under the nose with electro-optical and infrared cameras, provisions for machine gun mounts and possibly hoists.
 
“When I think about the issue in front of us, about moving forward in nuclear deterrence, when I stare down a wave of acquisition for essentially everything we do, I hope this particular programme is a harbinger of very successful stories to follow,” USAF’s General Ray emphasised. “Not just for our command, but for the good of the nation, and for the good of our allies and partners.”
 
Missile Security and Airlift 
With unmatched systems integration, a state-of-the-art avionics system and advanced flight deck functionality, the modern MH-139A provides unrivalled operational flexibility and performance that will serve the U.S. Air Force for decades to come. Key benefits of the aircraft include:
 
• Cruises 50 per cent faster, flies 50 per cent farther, has a 30 per cent larger cabin and can lift 5,000 more pounds than the legacy platform, while introducing full autopilot capability to reduce pilot workload.
 
• State-of-the-art avionics system with advanced flight deck functionality and improved situational awareness resulting in reduced crew workload
 
• Right-sized aircraft for maximum operational efficiency alongside lower operating and support costs
 
• An off-the-shelf, readily available solution that leverages repurposed technologies from proven Boeing Rotorcraft programmes to guarantee performance, flexibility and safety
 
A Sustainable, Affordable Solution
MH-139A's lower operating costs, increased reliability and improved maintainability translate into more than U.S. $1bn in savings for the Air Force across the aircraft’s life cycle. The MH-139A’s higher availability and assured mission reliability, utilising the advantages of condition-based maintenance, is accomplished through:
• World-class military and commercial systems integration capabilities
• An integrated training system based on existing AW139 operational flight trainers
• Automated sustainment tools enabling seamless USG interfaces
• Worldwide commercial/DoD support system and parts procurement
• A unique design allowing maintainers to accomplish all aircraft maintenance at the operational level
• Low 1.34 to 1 commercial maintenance man-hours per flight hour
• Installed base of more than 1,000 aircraft for guaranteed long-term support
 
Avionics and Mission Systems 
Designed to exceed the most rigorous regulatory standards, the MH-139 features a state-of-the-art avionics and mission systems. The NVG-compatible glass cockpit is based on four large Liquid Crystal Displays with an optional fifth display for moving map and cameras and a modern digital avionics system integrating 3D Smart View System (SVS), Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System (EGPWS), coupled with the 4-axis digital autopilot, enhanced SAR modes and Hover mode. 
 
The Grey Wolf’s Full Authority Digital Engine Control (FADEC) optimises helicopter control in any condition, while the cockpit’s ergonomic design, high visibility, excellent handling characteristics and low vibration levels minimise pilot workload, allowing the crew to concentrate on achieving mission objectives. The helicopter is exceptionally comfortable with incredibly low noise and vibration levels, alongside a cockpit designed to increase safety while providing excellent visibility and an open architecture avionics suite.
 
Exemplary Cabin Features
Finished in the finest interior trims, the largest cabin in its class will provide passengers with a relaxing flight. The wide hinged doors have a single electrical retractable step to give all passengers’ easy access, with the baggage compartment providing high luggage capacity.
 
A spacious, unobstructed and constant cross-section cabin has a fully accessible and usable square floor plan to offer maximum mission flexibility and seating for up to 15 people, while both sides of the cabin can be accessed through the large sliding cabin doors with high clearance from main and tail rotors. Boeing has provided a position between the pilot seats and passenger area to fit optional pintle-mounted armament for fire suppression via machine guns, which are purposely placed not to obstruct passenger entry/exit. 
 
The cabin can be configured for cargo or passengers as needed, seating fifteen bodies. There is also the option to install a rescue hoist for Search and Rescue (SAR) sorties or a cargo winch for cargo-hauling missions over the starboard side of the fuselage (at the passenger sliding door). 
 
Reduced Signature Engine 
The MH-139A's engines are mounted in separate engine turbine burst containment compartments with independent inputs to the main gearbox, while side-facing engine air intakes greatly reduce bird strike or flying object ingestion. 
The engines’ IR Signature is lowered with airflow and a directional exhaust. This feature also reduces plume impingement on the tail fuselage.
 
Rotor and Drive Train
In terms of the main rotor design, it is a five blade, completely articulated fail-safe system guaranteeing improved performance, reliability and lower noise. Moreover, high main and tail rotor ground clearance ensures a safe environment for ground personnel. 
 
The MH-139 rotor sits low along the fuselage and is mounted atop the twin-engine compartment, while the engines are held in a separate engine compartment with individual access to the transmission system. The turbofans are aspirated through side-facing intakes to reduce the change of object ingestion, with inherent InfraRed (IR) reduction taking place in the directional exhaust flow. 
 
Access to the engine units is through large, hinged panels along their sides. The tail rotor is of a four-bladed arrangement set to starboard, which is purposely fitted high atop the tail fin in order to clear ground personnel.
 
The first two aircraft are to be delivered in late 2020. They will then enter a test programme and if all goes well, operational testing will be in 2022 followed by full-rate production in 2023.
 
Reference Text/Photo: www.af.mil,
 

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