Malmstrom Named First U.S. Air Force Base to Receive New MH-139 Grey Wolf Helicopters to Replace Huey Fleet, Following Tester Efforts
Long-awaited upgrade of Malmstrom helicopter fleet will increase defense capabilities and provide certainty to airmen for years to come
Following sustained efforts from U.S. Senator Jon Tester, the U.S. Air Force announced today that Malmstrom Air Force Base will be the first to receive new MH-139 Grey Wolf helicopters to replace the decades-old Vietnam-era Huey fleet. The new fleet is expected to be fully operational by 2023.
“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,” said Tester. “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. I’m proud to have championed this effort in Congress to ensure our Air Force’s defense needs are met now, and well into the future.”
For years, Tester fought tirelessly to secure new helicopters for Malmstrom—a critical component of the Air Force's land-based Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) mission and used to secure and transport airmen between launching sites. In 2016, Tester expressed serious concerns regarding Malmstrom’s outdated Huey helicopter fleet, detailing that it lacked the capability to fully secure the country’s ICBM sites and proposed a plan to use an existing Army contract to replace the fleet with modern helicopters.
Tester successfully secured funding for the replacement helicopters through the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act and the Defense Appropriations bill. After multiple delays, Tester pressed the Air Force in 2018 to provide a detailed timeline on the program’s replacement. He later sent a bipartisan letter urging the Department of Defense to replace the UH-1N helicopters used at ICBM sites.