Air Force officials said Cascade County, Montana-based Malmstrom Air Force Base will be the first site to receive new MH-139 Grey Wolf helicopters to replace the Vietnam-era Huey fleet.
The new fleet is expected to be fully operational by 2023. Malmstrom Air Force Base serves as a vital component of the Air Force’s land-based Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) mission, used to secure and transport airmen between launching.
“After repeated delays, this announcement is welcomed news for our brave men and women at Malmstrom Air Force Base who will be first in line to receive this long-awaited helicopter replacement fleet,” Senator Jon Tester (D-MT), who advocated for the action, said. “At a time of increased global threats and near peer adversaries, this new batch of helicopters will strengthen our nation’s defense capabilities, secure our ICBM fields and provide greater relief and certainty to the airmen who work tirelessly to keep us safe.”
Tester said he is proud to have encouraged efforts to secure the new helicopters as a means of ensuring the Air Force’s defense needs are met now and in the future.
Tester successfully secured funding for the replacement helicopters through the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act and the Defense Appropriations bill. After a series of delays, Tester pressed the Air Force in 2018 to provide a detailed timeline on the program’s replacement.