Tester tours MANG’s ‘Hush House’

Great Falls Tribune

by Ryan Hall

U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., smiled Thursday morning as a 9,300-horsepower jet engine reached the full afterburner stage only a few dozen feet away. Less than 30 minutes later, he helped to bore-sight a 20-millimeter rotating gun on an F-15 fighter jet.

These experiences were just part of Tester’s nearly two-hour stop at the Montana Air National Guard base on Gore Hill.

Tester said he stopped at the base to reacquaint himself with the Guard and to learn more about the twin-engine F-15s, on which MANG recently was certified fully mission capable following a transition from the F-16.

Tester said he always is impressed by the airmen at MANG whenever he gets to visit with them.

“They just do an incredible job,” he said. “These folks, they’re perfectionists. … We’re in good hands.”
While Tester has spent time with the MANG airmen before, Thursday was his first experience in the “Hush House” — a name given to the engine testing facility because it contains the noise of the engine so the tests don’t disturb nearby residents.

“It’s an incredible exhibition of power,” Tester said after watching the engine reach the afterburner stage.

He said watching the test and seeing how the engine worked was “kind of fun,” noting that his loader tractor on his farm only has 100 horsepower — and that seemed strong enough.

“That (9,300 horsepower) is more power than all the equipment on my place puts out— by probably about 10 fold,” the organic farmer said with a chuckle.

Tester also said he was impressed with the 20mm machine gun on the side of the F-15, a weapon capable of shooting 6,000 rounds per minute — meaning it can expend its 940-round drum in about 10 seconds.

“It throws out a pretty good hunk of lead,” Tester said.

Following his experiences, Tester said his already strong appreciation for the men and women of MANG had only grown after seeing them at work on an engine and weapons system.

“This has always been a pretty elite outfit,” he said.