‘Game changer’: Maxwell chosen as training unit location for new helicopter

Maxwell Air Force Base selected for new flying mission

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Maxwell Air Force Base has been selected as the preferred location to host the MH-139A Grey Wolf Formal Training Unit, the secretary of the Air Force announced Friday.

The MH-139A Grey Wolf helicopter was unveiled in December. It will replace the Air Force’s fleet of UH-1N Huey aircraft.

“The MH-139 FTU’s mission is to train pilots in providing security and support for the nation’s intercontinental ballistic missile fields spanning Wyoming, Montana, North Dakota, Colorado and Nebraska. The MH-139 mission will replace the mission of the Air Force Reserve’s 908th Airlift Wing’s aging C-130Hs currently at Maxwell AFB,” a news release from the Air Force stated.

According to the Air Force, the MH-139 has “capability improvements related to speed, range, endurance and payload.”

“As the lead command for the Air Force’s MH-139 helicopter fleet, bringing the MH-139 FTU online is an important step to ensure the nation’s Nuclear Triad remains safe, secure, effective and ready,” said Gen. Tim Ray, commander of Air Force Global Strike Command.

“The MH-139 will be an absolute game changer providing increased intercontinental ballistic missile security in support of USSTRATCOM nuclear deterrence operations,” Ray added. “The Grey Wolf will bring significantly improved capabilities, ready to rapidly deliver more defenders to missile fields while also providing increased convoy security.”

The Air Force will conduct an environmental impact analysis before making its final decision in the winter of 2021.

The first aircraft are scheduled to arrive in 2023, according to the Air Force.

The Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce said this training mission will ensure the stability of the 980th Airlift Wing, which consists of more than 1,198 people and has an annual economic impact of more than $60 million.

“Maxwell AFB’s selection for this next-generation flying and training mission shows that Montgomery and Maxwell are on the leading edge in supporting the Air Force as it accelerates change and innovates to prepare America’s Airmen and protect our nation,” said Anna Buckalew, president and CEO of the chamber, in a statement. “Montgomery’s defense sector is a critical economic driver for our region, and this is further proof of the momentum that continues to build for our future.”

“The impact this decision will have on our community is significant,” said Montgomery Mayor Steven L. Reed in a statement. “Montgomery continues to prove that it is not only serious about its support for our military but that we are serious about our ability to look ahead, to anticipate opportunities, and to successfully compete for the projects, missions, and initiatives that will continue to carry our community and our nation forward well into the future.”

“Congratulations to the men and women of the 908th Airlift Wing who have received a vote of confidence from our national defense leadership,” Montgomery County Commission Chairman Elton Dean said in a statement. “Montgomery is known as the best hometown in the Air Force because of our exceptional and enduring partnerships between Air Force leadership, the Montgomery community, and our congressional delegation’s tireless support.”

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