BREAKING: Following Tester Efforts, Malmstrom to Receive New MH-139 Grey Wolf Helicopters

Senator led sustained efforts to replace Huey fleet to increase defense capabilities and provide certainty for Malmstrom missileers

Following his sustained efforts, U.S. Senator Jon Tester announced today that Malmstrom Air Force Base will officially receive new MH-139 Grey Wolf helicopters to replace the decades-old Vietnam-era Huey fleet. Malmstrom is set to receive seven MH-139 Grey Wolf helicopters this year and additional aircraft will be delivered later. The first aircraft will be flown into Malmstrom in March.

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.”

Tester has worked to upgrade Malmstrom Air Force Base’s helicopter fleet since he was first elected to represent Montana in the U.S. Senate.

In 2016, Tester expressed serious concerns regarding Malmstrom’s outdated Huey helicopter fleet, detailing that it lacked the capability to fully secure the country’s ICBM sites and proposed a plan to use an existing Army contract to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 authorized the replacement helicopters through the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and secured the funding through the 2017 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. In 2020, Tester announced that Malmstrom Air Force Base will be the first military installation to receive new MH-139 Grey Wolf helicopters to replace the decades-old Vietnam-era Huey fleet.

Last April, Tester brought Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall to Malmstrom and received a side-by-side comparison of the new MH-139 Grey Wolf to the old Huey fleet. Kendall is responsible for organizing, training, and equipping the U.S. Air and Space Forces. In this capacity, Secretary Kendall directs the Department of the Air Force’s annual budget exceeding $173 billion, provides Air and Space forces to combatant commanders for global military operations, and is accountable for the welfare of nearly 700,000 active duty, Guard, Reserve, and civilian Airmen and Guardians and their families.

In September 2023, Tester announced that the Montana Air National Guard Base (MANG) in Great Falls will receive eight C-130J aircraft. Tester has been a relentless advocate for critical modernization efforts of MANG’s aging fleet of C-130Hs and has fought for years to bring new C-130Js to Montana.