The US Air Force has announced that its new MH-139A Grey Wolf helicopters will enter developmental testing after receiving supplemental type certification (STC) from the Federal Aviation Administration.

The STC is the approval to modify or upgrade an aeronautical product from its original design.

The certification allows the US Air Force to begin evaluating the helicopter’s critical military capabilities and move to the next phase before deployment.

According to MH-139 evaluation chief Lt. Col. Josh Hallford, the Grey Wolf displays impressive performance in supporting various missions.

“The built-in system redundancies and physical performance of the aircraft show great potential for improving on the myriad of missions that have been covered by the venerable Huey (Bell UH-1 Iroquois utility military helicopter) for so long,” he said.

“We’re excited to get it into test and find out what it can really do.”

The MH-139A aircraft will replace the air force’s fleet of UH-1N helicopters and is expected to offer a significant increase in speed, range, endurance, payload, and survivability.

MH-139A Grey Wolf

The MH-139A Grey Wolf is a multi-mission aircraft, a militarized version of the AW139 commercial helicopter jointly developed by Boeing and Leonardo.

It has survivability enhancements including cockpit and cabin armor, a missile warning system, a forward-looking infrared camera system, and two M240 crew-served weapons.

The dual-piloted, twin-engine helicopter can carry nine combat-equipped troops and security response equipment.

According to the US Air Force, it needs 80 MH-139A helicopters to provide vertical airlift and support to four major commands, including Air Force Global Strike Command, Air Education and Training Command, Air Force Materiel Command, and Air Force Reserve Command.

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The service will also need training devices and associated support equipment.

Before delivery, the aircraft underwent rigorous acceptance tests by Global Strike Command Detachment 7 and 413th Flight Test Squadron pilots.

Two of the four newly-acquired MH-139A helicopters are preparing for developmental testing. Photo: US Air Force