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Pentagon budget 2025: US Air Force cuts planned MH-139A purchase from 74 to 42

An MH-139A Grey Wolf prepares for take-off at its testing base at Duke Field, Florida, on 22 February 2024, en route to its first duty base at Malmstrom AFB, Montana. (USAF)

The US Air Force (USAF) has cut its planned purchase of Boeing MH-139A Grey Wolf helicopters from 74 to 42, according to budget documents released on 11 March, with the programme's projected budget cut from USD2.55 billion to USD1.42 billion.

The fiscal year (FY) 2025 USAF Justification Book – a list of all the unclassified USAF programmes and budgets – lists the service as purchasing 42 MH-139As in total, although such documents from previous years list an intended purchase of 74 helicopters. Following FY 2025, in which funding is set aside to purchase 8 MH-139As, the intended purchases fall to two per year from as many as 15 from FY 2026 through FY 2029, with planned annual funding falling from USD294 million in FY 2025 to USD79.9 million in FY 2029 for a total of 36 helicopters. The additional six examples are those currently used for research, testing development, and engineering (RTD&E).

The MH-139A was intended to replace the Bell UH-1 Huey to provide security and logistics support for nuclear intercontinental ballistic missile fields, in addition to VIP transport around the Washington, DC region. Although the MH-139A is likely to fulfil its nuclear support role, missing from the FY 2025 Justification Book is the mention of the USAF District of Washington, which operates the VIP Hueys.

Boeing declined to comment on the cut, referring questions to the USAF.

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