908th celebrates MH-139 Grey Wolf

  • Published
  • By Bradley J. Clark
  • 908th Airlift Wing

The 908th Airlift Wing celebrated the MH-139A Grey Wolf helicopter and the unit's efforts for the past three and a half years preparing for the transition from a tactical airlift mission to a formal training mission during a ceremony May 31, 2024, at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama.

The event gave wing members, congressional staffers, local civic leaders and senior military members representing three different major commands a chance to see the new aircraft and learn about its importance to U.S. national defense.

During the event 908th AW Commander, Col. Christopher Lacouture, thanked all in attendance including military members form around the globe, industry leaders and experts, and local, state and national elected officials for celebrating with the unit.

Then he turned his attention to the Airmen of the 908th.

“To the Airmen of the 908th, sincerely, thank you for jobs well done and thanks in advance for the work you will do in the coming years,” said Lacouture. “With our partners in [Air Education and Training Command], [Air Force Global Strike Command], civilian manufacturers and contractors. By working together, to do what is best for the mission, you are building a new capability on the foundation of 40 years of proud and effective service flying combat airlift.”

Lacouture closed his remarks noting that the event was about change.

“We honor the past as we accelerate into the future,” said Lacouture. “We have much to do. [Enjoy today], then, let’s get back to work building the MH-139A schoolhouse the nation needs.”

The final speaker for the event was the presiding official, the Chief, Air Force Reserve and Commander, Air Force Reserve Command, Lt. Gen. John Healy.

Healy thanked the federal staff delegations from the House and Senate and officials from the state of Alabama, Air Force Global Strike Command, Boeing, Leonardo, Maxwell Air Force Base’s host unit, the 42nd Airbase Wing, the 58th Operations Group and then focused on the 908th and its members.

“The transition from a fixed-wing to rotary aircraft has not been easy, however the men and women of this unit persevered through combat deployments and the COVID-19 pandemic, bringing us to this moment,” said Healy. “The MH-139 trainer before you is a testament to the determination of the 908th Airmen who, time and again deliver the firepower and operational capacity that the Air Force needs and our nation demands.”

Healy then thanked the aircrew members saying, “My hat’s off to the crew members who opted to stay with the wing and learn to fly a new aircraft. The experience Reserve pilots bring makes a transition like this not just possible but successful.”

Then he turned his attention to the wing’s maintainers.

“It wasn’t just the pilots who had to make difficult adjustments,” noted Healy. “Our maintainers, many of whom have more than 10 years’ experience on the C-130, demonstrate what it means to be mission-capable Airmen. They’ve pursued extra education in basic rotary systems and more than 30 days instruction in helicopter maintenance to support the Grey Wolf’s arrival.”

The MH-139A Grey Wolf helicopter will replace the Air Force’s aging fleet of Uh-1N Huey helicopters which have been in service for nearly 50 years.

According to Boeing, the MH-139A, “Cruises 50% faster, flies 50% farther, has a 30% larger cabin, and can lift 5,000 more pounds than the legacy platform, while introducing full autopilot capability to reduce pilot workload.”

Healy closed his comments and then event by focusing on wing members.

“Lastly and most importantly, thank you to the 908th Airmen and their families,” said Healy. “In the face of incredible change, you continue to display commitment to family, community and mission. You embody what it means have grit and persist in the face of challenges. To you and your families I say thanks for all you’ve done. Now get to work!”