Last month, the Air Force selected Montgomery’s 908th Airlift Wing located at Maxwell Air Force Base as the preferred host of the new MH-139 Grey Wolf Formal Training Unit (FTU).
According to the Air Force, the new MH-139 Grey Wolf helicopter will replace the UH-1N Huey helicopters across the Air Force’s fleet by 2023. The new helicopter has shown it has the capability of greater speed, range, endurance, payload, and survivability. The Grey Wolf FTU will train pilots to use the MH-139A to secure and support the nation’s intercontinental ballistic missile fields in Colorado, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, and Wyoming.
The FTU will also handle:
- airlift support
- civil search and rescue
- survival school and test support
- National Capital Region missions
The Air Force will not finalize the establishment of the FTU at Maxwell Air Force Base until the completion of a mandatory environmental impact analysis. The final decision will come in the winter of 2021. If approved, the first MH-139s should begin arriving at the base in 2023.
New Training Unit Placement Could Impact Montgomery Economy
Montgomery city officials were glad to learn about the potential placement of the new FTU at Maxwell. They considered it good news because of the Air Force’s plans to divest from existing C-130 missions. This would significantly affect the 908th Airlift Wing and Maxwell Air Force Base. The 908th Airlift Wing has operated out of Maxwell for several decades and consists of approximately 1,200 airmen.
The Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce estimates that the military personnel have boosted the surrounding economy by more than $60 million annually. Losing the patronage of so many service members could impact Montgomery’s economy for years. But, the Chamber hopes the airmen supporting the C-130 mission will transition into supporting the MH-139 mission if Maxwell becomes the home of the Grey Wolf FTU.
According to Montgomery Mayor Steven L. Reed, “The impact this decision will have on our community is significant. Montgomery continues to prove that it is not only serious about its support for our military but that we are serious about our ability to look ahead, to anticipate opportunities, and to successfully compete for the projects, missions, and initiatives that will continue to carry our community and our nation forward well into the future.”