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US Air Force cites administrative certifications for not funding MH-139A in budget request

The US Air Force (USAF) did not request funding for its Boeing MH-139A Grey Wolf helicopter in its fiscal year (FY) 2022 budget proposal due to administrative certifications, and not technical challenges, according to General Timothy Ray, Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC) chief and commander of Air Force Strategic – Air, US Strategic Command (STRATCOM).

Gen Ray said on 3 June that the matter is getting the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to certify the AgustaWestland AW139, the European version of the MH-139A, and that the Covid-19 pandemic has made these conversations difficult. These certifications are expected to happen in the next six months, he added.

“I am not concerned, I think this is going to be managed here very soon,” Gen Ray said during an Air Force Association (AFA) event.

Carlos Rodgers, deputy for budget, office of the assistant secretary of the USAF for financial management and comptroller, said on 28 May that the service is deferring the procurement of the MH-139A until FY 2023. He also cited the FAA certification issue. The aircraft is expected to undergo operational test and evaluation (OT&E) starting in FY 2022 to validate its operational performance, effectiveness, and suitability.

The USAF received USD194 million in research, development, test, and evaluation (RDT&E) funding for eight MH-139As in FY 2021. The service, in FY 2021, will perform live-fire test and evaluation activities necessary to assess compliance with aircraft self-protection and survivability requirements. The MH-139A has a flyaway unit cost of USD17.7 million, according to the USAF FY 2022 budget justification documents.

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