In Great Falls, Tester Celebrates MH-139 Grey Wolf Helicopter Delivery at Malmstrom with Air Force Leadership

Helicopters secured by Senator through years of legislative effort

Following years of successful legislative efforts in Congress to update Malmstrom Air Force Base’s aging helicopter fleet, U.S. Senator Jon Tester today attended the official Homecoming Ceremony for new MH-139 Grey Wolf helicopters at Malmstrom. Tester officially announced the delivery of the new helicopters in February.

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.

“Malmstrom Air Force Base provides an unparalleled deterrent against our foreign adversaries, and it’s critical that the brave airmen and women on base have the equipment necessary to improve our national defense and keep Montanans safe,” said Tester. “For years these folks have gone above and beyond, carrying out their mission with decades-old Vietnam-era equipment, but after years of work with Air Force leadership and the Great Falls community, I’m proud to see these new Grey Wolves on base today. This is a big step towards ensuring that Malmstrom’s mission keeps America safe for generations to come, and I’m proud to have led the effort in Congress to make it happen.”

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In 2016, Tester expressed serious concerns regarding Malmstrom’s outdated Huey helicopter fleet, detailing that it lacked the capability to fully secure the country’s ICBM sites and proposed a plan to use an existing Army contract to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.