6 things you didn’t know about Operation Market Garden

The Air Force Global Strike Command acquired its very first aircraft, the MH-139A Gray Wolf, the first major command acquisition in 10 years of existence. The Gray Wolf will replace the UH-1N Huey, which entered the operational air force during the Vietnam War in 1970. The purchase is also unique in that it is a ‘ready to go’ purchase. ’employment’ of an existing airframe modified to meet military requirements.

The acquisition was closed through Boeing in a full and open competition at a cost of $ 0.38 billion – id = “listicle-2645128599” $ 0.7 billion less than budget.

AFGSC Commander General Timothy Ray named the helicopter “Gray Wolf” during a christening and unveiling ceremony at Duke Field, Fla. On December 19, 2019, comparing the helicopter to the animal wild with the same name.

The name Gray Wolf is derived from the wild species that roams the northern part of North America, which also encompasses the AFGSC intercontinental ballistic missile bases.

“It scares the hearts of many,” Ray said. “Its scope is absolutely inherent in the ICBM fields that we have. “

“As they hunt in packs, they attack as one, they bring the strength of many,” he continued. “This is exactly how the nuclear security mission should be approached.

The helicopters will provide security and support to the nation’s ICBM fields spanning Wyoming, Montana, North Dakota, Colorado and Nebraska in support of U.S. Strategic Command nuclear deterrence operations aligned with the national defense strategy.

Members of the 54th Helicopter Squadron fly near a missile warning facility near Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, July 26, 2018. Members of the 54th HS provide rapid transportation for defenders of the 91st Security Forces Group whenever the time comes.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jonathan McElderry)

New helicopter fills UH-1N Huey’s capability gaps in speed, range, endurance, payload and survivability in support of command’s ICBM missions . Other mission capabilities include civilian search and rescue, airlift support, missions in the National Capital Region, as well as survival school and test support.

The Air Force will purchase up to 84 MH-139A Gray Wolf helicopters, training devices and associated support equipment from Boeing.

According to Boeing, Gray Wolf is 50% faster than the Huey helicopters currently serving Air Force security forces. It can also fly 50% farther and carry 5,000 pounds of additional cargo. Boeing says Gray Wolf will save id = “listicle-2645128599” billion in life cycle costs.

“When I think of the problem we are facing, the advancement of nuclear deterrence, when I contemplate a wave of acquisitions for basically everything that we do, I hope this particular program is the harbinger of the future. ‘Very successful stories to follow not only for our command but for the good of the nation and for the good of our allies and partners,’ said Ray.

6 things you didn't know about Operation Market Garden

Two UH-1N Twin Hueys from 1st Helicopter Squadron fly over the Washington Memorial, Washington DC, August 28, 2015. The helicopters flew for the Vietnam Helicopter Crew Members Association Memorial Service Flyover.

(U.S. Air Force Photo / Airman 1st Class JD Maidens)

The MH-139A Gray Wolf will provide vertical airlift and meet the needs of five major Air Force commands and operating agencies: AFGSC, Air Force District of Washington, Air Education and Training Command, Air Force Materiel Command and Pacific Air Forces. AFGSC is the primary sponsor of command and operational capability requirements.

AFGSC established Detachment 7 at Duke Field to support testing and evaluation of the MH-139A.

6 things you didn't know about Operation Market Garden

Major Zach Roycroft of 413 Flight Test Squadron climbs into the cockpit of a UH-1N helicopter for a test flight at Duke Field near Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. September 16, 2019. The squadron received its first MH-139 helicopters, which will replace the UH-1N, for flight tests in December 2019.

(Photo by JM Eddins Jr.)

Lt. Col. Mary Clark took command of the detachment with the brigadier. General Andrew Gebara, Director of AFGSC A5 / 8, presided over the ceremony.

“I am here to tell you that this is a big problem,” Gebara said at the ceremony. “It’s hard to overstate how much blood sweat and tears were required to get this helicopter into our United States Air Force (and) to raise this detachment. We are very excited about Air Force Global Strike Command. We look forward to spreading this to the missile fields and the National Capital Region, where it needs to be. “

6 things you didn't know about Operation Market Garden

The MH-139A Gray Wolf lands at Duke Field, Fla., December 19, 2019, ahead of its unveiling and christening ceremony. The aircraft is intended to replace the Air Force’s fleet of UH-1N Huey aircraft and features capacity improvements related to speed, range, endurance and payload.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Samuel King Jr.)

The detachment received the first MH-139A helicopter in a christening and unveiling ceremony.

The detachment will work in conjunction with the 413 Flight Test Squadron of the 96th Test Wing, the Air Force’s only dedicated rotary test unit. Detachment 7 brings a vital crew to the test effort and is made up of special mission pilots and airmen.

6 things you didn't know about Operation Market Garden

From right, test pilots Major Zach Roycroft and Tony Arrington of 413 Flight Test Squadron and their flight crew pose in front of a UH-1N helicopter on the runway at Duke Field near the Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., after a test flight on September 16, 2019. The squadron received its first MH-139 helicopters, which will replace the UH-1N, for flight tests in December 2019.

(Photo by JM Eddins Jr.)

Currently, the unit resides in administrative facilities and temporary hangars on Duke Field. The detachment will eventually relocate to Malmstrom Air Force Base, MT, to conduct further testing and evaluation of the aircraft.

“I want you all to know that you are special,” said Clark, addressing the Airmen under his charge at the ceremony. “You have been selected to fly, test and commission this aircraft, literally writing the book about this helicopter for the aviators who will follow us for 50 years or more.”

Detachment 7 will manage four helicopters. The second plane is expected to arrive in mid-January 2020, while the third and fourth aircraft are expected to arrive in February.

“We’re going to put this helicopter to the test,” Gebara said.

The UH-1Ns will continue to support five commands and numerous missions, including operational support airlift, test support and intercontinental ballistic missile safety support, until replacements are ready.

This article originally appeared on Airman Magazine. To follow @AirmanMagazine on Twitter.

Terri S. Tomasini