WASHINGTON: The Grey Wolf helicopter needs some design changes before it can achieve Federal Aviation Administration certification, which will delay the helicopter’s progress to Milestone C, the move to production for a major weapon system.
Boeing and the Air Force made erroneous assumptions about what certifications would be required for the helicopter, Col. William Rogers, the service’s program executive for intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and special operations forces, told reporters this afternoon.
While Rogers said “there are no major technical hurdles that we are concerned over,” a sensor faring on the helicopter needs to be redesigned because, in certain conditions, it can affect the accuracy of the aircraft’s air speed indicators. Currently, the faring can affect the air flow as it hits the pitot tubes, leaving the pilot with differing air speed readings.
Boeing has two redesigns in hand that have shown promise in modeling and simulation runs and they “are being tested.”
The MH-139A is a military adaptation of Leonardo’s AW139 commercial helicopter, which is already in civilian service. Because of design changes, the Grey Wolf military version needs to be recertified by the FAA.
Rogers would not be drawn out on when the Grey Wolf would likely be certified and ready for Milestone C. But he did say “we are in the process of revisiting our acquisition program baseline, and will be briefing” the Air Force’s acquisition executive, Darlene Costello, soon.
Boeing won a $2.38 billion firm, fixed-price contract to replace the Air Force’s ancient Huey helos, which guard America’s ICBM fields, in September 2018. It was a long time coming, with years of delays slowing the process down.
Gen. John Hyten, who led U.S. Strategic Command when the award was made, had previously expressed frustration with how hard it was to get a Huey replacement under contract. Speaking to the Senate Armed Services Committee in April 2017, Hyten noted “It’s a helicopter, for gosh sakes. We ought to be able to go out and buy a helicopter and put it in the hands of the people that need it. And we should be able to do that quickly.”
Production Delays For Boeing’s MH-139A: Air Force – Breaking Defense Breaking Defense is written by Colin Clark for breakingdefense.com