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Joint Base Andrews News

NEWS | July 9, 2024

AW139 helicopter arrives at Joint Base Andrews

By Senior Airman Matthew John Braman | 316th Wing Public Affairs

The Nuclear Emergency Support Team welcomed the arrival of its new AW139 helicopter at Joint Base Andrews, June 17, enhancing its nuclear emergency response capabilities.

As a mission partner at Joint Base Andrews, NEST is a specialized unit under the National Nuclear Security Administration responsible for a full range of nuclear emergency response missions, to include preventive radiological detection, radiological consequence management, and nuclear forensic analysis.

The AW139 will join NEST’s Aerial Measuring System, consisting of aircraft equipped with advanced instruments to detect and measure radiation. Operational since 1958, this system aids in public safety and national security missions.

Dr. Jacqueline Brandon, an aerial measuring system supervisor at the Nevada National Security Site, shared her excitement about the arrival of the AW139.

“We are thrilled to announce the new addition,” Brandon said. “This exciting development is the result of 30 months of dedicated work and collaboration by countless individuals.”

The AW139 will replace the Bell 412 helicopter, which served NEST for nearly 30 years. This new model delivers significant advancements, such as increased range, speed, and radiation detection sensitivity compared to its predecessor.

Moreover, the AW139 can carry an additional 1,800 pounds compared to the Bell 412. It features advanced integrated avionics and a fully digital glass cockpit, reducing pilot workload and improving situational awareness. The helicopter's satellite communication system supports both data and voice transmission, enabling the swift delivery of measurements to the Department of Energy’s national laboratories for rapid analysis and effective response.

The new helicopter will provide critical support for NEST's efforts in preventive nuclear and radiological detection, threat-based nuclear searches, radiological consequence management, and responses to U.S. nuclear weapon accidents and incidents.

“Our program is elated with the increased capability and detectability provided by the new helicopter,” Brandon said. “We eagerly anticipate utilizing this state-of-the-art aircraft for many years to come, furthering our mission to deliver top-notch services to the public.”