Grey Wolf will soon prowl for threats to Minuteman missiles

The Boeing systems are designed to safeguard and provide strategic deterrence capabilities for the U.S.

September 19, 2022 in Defense

The MH-139 Grey Wolf is one step closer to taking on the task of protecting the arsenal of 450 Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) that dot the Great Plains of the U.S. After Boeing began MH-139 deliveries to the U.S. Air Force last month, the service has begun assessing the operational utility of the aircraft. Not only does this mark a big milestone for the program, but it also brings new mission synergy for two Boeing systems one step closer to reality.

The Boeing aircraft will replace the Bell UH-1N Huey currently tasked with protecting the ICBMs. The multi-mission Grey Wolf represents the future of rotorcraft support for missile security — providing unmatched capabilities for the Air Force, including enhanced speed, range and survivability.

The MH-139 Grey Wolf.

Photo: Boeing

While the MH-139 is one of the newer modernization platforms, the Minuteman ICBMs it will be tasked with patrolling have been on alert for more than half a century. Few systems have stood the test of time like the Minuteman, which still stretches its legs several times per year on average via routine tests that are designed to demonstrate the continued fitness and readiness of the nation’s ICBM force while promoting peace through shows of strength.

“Boeing is a foundational partner in our nation’s mission of strategic deterrence and our systems have provided the underpinning for U.S. security for decades,” Cindy Gruensfelder, vice president and general manager of Boeing Missile and Weapon Systems and Huntsville site senior executive. “The new partnership between the Grey Wolf and Minuteman programs underscores the lasting quality of our products and the continued innovation taking place across our company.”

A map designating active (red) and inactive (black) Minuteman ICBM wings across the U.S.

Photo: U.S. National Park Service

The Grey Wolf will frequently stretch its legs, too — the aircraft will patrol an area spanning five states. Boeing’s vice president and general manager of Vertical Lift, Mark Cherry, is confident that the aircraft is more than up to the task.

“The MH-139 provides unrivaled capabilities to the Air Force,” Cherry said. “The fact that it will be protecting another Boeing-made system illustrates the breadth of our expertise and commitment to delivering the best solutions for the nation.”

Specifically, key benefits and advantages of the Grey Wolf include:

  • A 50% increase in cruising speed and range, 30% larger cabin and an additional 5,000 pounds of lift capability than its predecessor
  • State-of-the-art avionics with full autopilot mode, advanced flight deck functionality and improved situational awareness for reduced crew workload
  • Right-sized aircraft for maximum operational efficiency
  • Lower operating and support costs
  • Proven technologies from Boeing rotorcraft for maximum performance, flexibility and safety

And so, a new chapter will soon be written in the long history of Boeing’s support of the nation’s highest priority defense mission. Boeing is committed to supporting the readiness and continued modernization of U.S. strategic deterrence capabilities today and continued innovation to meet emerging threats and future challenges tomorrow.