Fleet Readiness Center East (FRCE) recently secured designation as the Depot Source of Repair (DSOR) for 81 major structural and dynamic components of the U.S. Air Force MH-139A Grey Wolf helicopter, the planned replacement for the UH-1N Huey. FRCE performs maintenance, repair and overhaul of the legacy UH-1N platform at its North Carolina Global TransPark detachment in Kinston. Current projections place the start date for the new work in fiscal year 2028.
“I’m proud that our counterparts at the Air Force have recognized the caliber of service FRC East provides, and have chosen to expand our relationship by selecting our depot to support the MH-139A through sustainment of many of the platform’s components,” said FRCE Commanding Officer Capt. James M. Belmont. “Our workforce has long maintained a stellar reputation for producing the best quality products for our nation’s military aviators, and securing workload on emerging platforms like the Grey Wolf will allow us to continue that tradition for many years to come.
“Our selection as the DSOR for these components is a direct reflection of the ability and commitment of the FRCE workforce,” Belmont continued. “Our people continue to be our greatest asset as we shape the future of the depot.”
The planned workload includes major components like gearboxes, rotor blades, hubs, actuators and engines, said Del Bennett, capability establishment lead within the Capability Management Branch of FRCE’s Central Coordination Department. The Air Force plans to use the dual-piloted, multi-mission aircraft to support security for intercontinental ballistic missile sites, and transport U.S. government and visiting officials and security forces, he explained.
The Air Force has not yet fielded the Grey Wolf platform, which is currently in the engineering and manufacturing development phase of the defense acquisition process and is undergoing military unit testing. Bennett said current data does not provide final projections on the effort required to sustain the platform; however, depot officials are planning for a substantial workload.
“This DSOR provides FRC East with the lion’s share of the major structural and dynamic component workload,” he explained. “Because the platform is new, we don’t yet have projections on the final number of labor hours the component work will involve, but we know that it will be significant.”
Depot Activation Maintenance Working Groups will begin operations this summer in order to ensure the FRCE’s facilities and workforce are prepared when the first Grey Wolf components arrive. Bennett said the lengthy process guarantees that all logistical elements are in place to support sustainment of the new workload, including technical data from the manufacturer; required facilities and infrastructure; necessary support and test equipment; supply support; and artisan training on maintenance, repair and overhaul processes.
With the maintenance work that FRCE’s UH-1N line does at the Global TransPark detachment, pursuing the workload related to the legacy aircraft’s replacement was a natural fit, Bennett said. The depot’s long history of providing quality products for military aviators helped secure the nod.
“The Air Force Program Office selected FRC East based on our substantial knowledge and experience in the maintenance, repair and overhaul of helicopter, tilt-rotor and fixed wing airframes and components, including engines, drive shafts, rotor heads, fuel pumps and electronics,” Bennett said. “We are the Department of Defense Vertical Lift Center of Excellence, and that shows in the breadth and depth of understanding our artisans, engineers, logisticians and support staff have of military aircraft.
“The selection process is pretty competitive when you’re considering these major aircraft platforms for all their workload, and the Air Force has been very happy with the service that we have provided on the UH-1N platform,” he continued. “Their support of FRC East and the work we’ve done on those aircraft is now flowing down through other programs, and it gives us a competitive edge.”
FRCE is North Carolina’s largest maintenance, repair, overhaul and technical services provider, with more than 4,000 civilian, military and contract workers. Its annual revenue exceeds $1 billion. The depot provides service to the fleet while functioning as an integral part of the greater U.S. Navy; Naval Air Systems Command; and Commander, Fleet Readiness Centers.