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Grey Wolf tests new rappelling system

  • Published
  • By Helicopter Program Office
  • Air Force Life Cycle Management Center

Air Force special operators successfully rappelled out of a hovering MH-139A Grey Wolf to the ground 30 feet below here Oct. 6, 2022.

This was the culmination of two days of testing involving multiple ground and flight tests demonstrating the Grey Wolf’s fast rope insertion extraction system; another milestone for the aircraft since the Air Force took ownership Aug. 12. 

The goal of the test by the 413th Flight Test Squadron and Air Force Global Strike Command Detachment 7 was to capture data on the MH-139A’s ability to support alternate insertions of team members via fast rope and rappel ropes.

Grey Wolf new test
Grey Wolf new test
Grey Wolf new test
Grey Wolf new test

During the mission, the pilots assessed the landing area for safety and maintained a stable hover. Four personnel from the 23rd Special Tactics Squadron and four AFGSC Det 7 special mission aviators deployed the FRIES equipment, monitored for safe execution, and communicated to the pilots the operation’s progression. The test conductor orchestrated and gathered data for specific test points.

The Grey Wolf’s upgraded features, including MH-139A’s dedicated FRIES equipment, increased power and the ability to handle center of gravity shifts due to Airmen rappelling in full gear were scrutinized.  Additionally, the aircraft’s increased power and lift capacity were evaluated and data was gathered for specific test points.

“The MH-139A test enterprise has been working tirelessly to execute safe and effective tests and provide pertinent data to our acquisition and warfighter customers to inform the decision to acquire this aircraft,” said Lt. Col. Josh Hallford, AFGSC Det. 7 and one of the pilots for the flight.

The MH-139A will replace the Air Force fleet of UH-1N aircraft, increasing capabilities in speed, range, endurance, payload, and survivability. The Air Force will acquire up to 80 helicopters, training devices, and associated support equipment. The aircraft will provide vertical airlift and support to four major commands and other operating agencies.