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Malmstrom AFB will soon receive Grey Wolf helicopters

Posted at 8:18 AM, Feb 21, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-08 13:56:39-05

WASHINGTON D.C. — Malmstrom Air Force Base will soon get major upgrades to its air fleet, replacing its Vietnam-era Huey helicopters with MH-139 Grey Wolf helicopters. Malmstrom will receive seven of the new helicopters in March.

The aircraft will enhance Malmstrom's Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) mission for security on base and transporting airmen between launch sites across north-central and central Montana.

Last year, a select group of Malmstrom airmen traveled to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, for the first training on these helicopters.

During the 32-day training program, the students were immersed in the classroom, cockpit, a procedural trainer, and a state-of-the-art helicopter simulator.

Grey Wolf helicopter
Grey Wolf helicopter

According to Malmstrom officials, the Grey Wolf provides the ability to cruise 50% faster than the Huey, while having a 30% larger cabin and the ability to lift 5,000 pounds more while flying.

In May 2023, the 550th Helicopter Squadron was officially activated at Malmstrom Air Force Base in anticipation of the arrival of the new aircraft:

Montana's two US Senators have both supported the helicopter upgrade program and provided the following information in news releases:

From the office of Senator Steve Daines:

U.S. Senator Steve Daines today announced that Malmstrom Air Force Base will receive the MH-139 “Grey Wolf” helicopter upgrade replacing the Vietnam-era UH-1N “Huey’s” in March. Malmstrom will be the first Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) base in the country to receive this critical upgrade. The news follows Daines’ direct request and extensive work since 2020 to secure the upgraded helicopters for Montana. “Montana has the best airmen and facilities in the country and the Grey Wolf will be right at home at Malmstrom. I was proud to start advocating for the replacement of the Vietnam-era Huey’s back in 2020 and am grateful to see these efforts finally come to fruition,” Daines said.

From the office of Senator Jon Tester:

For years, Tester has fought tirelessly to secure new helicopters for Malmstrom—a critical component of the Air Force’s land-based Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) mission used to enhance security at the base and transport airmen between launch sites. “The airmen and women at Malmstrom play a critical role in our national defense strategy and should have the best possible tools to keep Montana and our nation safe,” said Tester. “That’s why I’ve fought for years to replace Malmstrom’s Vietnam-era fleet of helicopters with new MH-139 Grey Wolves that are more reliable, safe, and efficient. I’m proud to have worked with the Air Force to deliver these aircraft so that our airmen and women have the certainty they need to do their jobs and protect our country.”

(NOVEMBER 2020) Malmstrom Air Force Base has been chosen as the first base to receive new Grey Wolf helicopters. Although the base doesn’t expect to receive the aircraft for about a year, preparations are already underway to replace the the current Vietnam-era fleet.

Back in May, Malmstrom started renovations on its three-bay hangar. Airmen are also completing construction on a new tactical response force alert facility, and currently building a missile maintenance dispatch facility.

Lieutenant Daniel Lindstrom, Malmstrom public affairs officer, said the base’s current Huey fleet has been in operational duty since 1970, and the decision to update the aircraft was a long time coming.

“We need to make sure that we’re upgrading them so that we are staying ahead of the game,” he said. “And that’s what the Grey Wolf is supposed to do, is provide increased capabilities so that we can do our jobs not just better than before, although that’ll be true, but better than anyone else.”

Lindstrom doesn't expect the fleet to be fully operational until 2023.