Tester, Baucus and Schweitzer Fighting for F-15s


(Washington, D.C.) – Montana’s U.S. Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester along with Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer pressed the Air Force this week for answers on the proposed change from an F-15 to a C-27J flying mission for the Montana Air National Guard (MANG) station in Great Falls.

Baucus, Tester and Schweitzer sent a letter to the Secretary and the Chief of Staff of the Air Force yesterday thanking the Air Force for the new C-27J mission, but expressing concerns over potential job losses and unnecessary spending as a result of transferring the current F-15 mission.

Baucus and Tester hosted the Central Montana Defense Alliance in Washington for a meeting with Director of the Air National Guard, General Harry Wyatt, and express those same concerns today.

“The Air Force needs to understand that for Montana, MANG is not just a military mission. MANG is part of the Great Falls community. MANG provides jobs and supports families,” Baucus said. “The new C-27J mission is a strong flying mission. But, each and every job on Gore Hill is important to Montana, and the Air Force leadership in D.C. needs to explain why millions of tax dollars should be spent moving the F-15s to California. That’s why we brought General Wyatt face-to-face with a room full of Montanans who care deeply about this issue today to show him we need a solution that will secure jobs for Great Falls.”

“I appreciate General Wyatt coming in to talk with us, because we’ve got some serious concerns,” Tester said. “We were able to have a frank conversation about the critical role MANG plays in keeping our country safe. I look forward to continuing to talk and make sure any decision made is the right one for MANG, and for Montana taxpayers.”

“I am very proud of the men and women of the Montana Air National Guard,” said Schweitzer. “These loyal, hardworking folks, their leadership and their civilian partners deserve a straight answer from the United States Air Force and the National Guard Bureau about their future. I commend the members of the Central Montana Defense Alliance and the citizens of Great Falls for their commitment to this mission.”

Central Montana Defense Alliance is part of the Great Falls Chamber of Commerce and a leading advocate for Air Force missions at MANG. The group sent a letter similar to Baucus, Tester and Schweitzer’s last week and attended the meeting with Baucus and Tester in Washington Today.

“We’re so thankful to Senators Baucus and Tester and Governor Schweitzer for their continued support for MANG. We want to particularly thank Senator Baucus and Senator Tester for making it possible for our members to speak directly with the Air National Guard’s Director, General Harry Wyatt today. To us, it does not make good business sense to move F-15s to California while MANG has a proven track record of providing quality national security. The personnel at MANG are also active and engaged members of our community who deserve to be heard during this process. Great Falls loves the sound of freedom!” said Central Montana Defense Alliance Chairman David Weissman.

Baucus and Tester have met with Air Force officials regularly since the Air Force signaled in 2008 their intention of moving the F-15 mission out of state. Baucus and Tester have been working to find a solution that will allow MANG to keep the F-15 mission and the hundreds of jobs that go with it or find another strong flying mission that strengthens national security, serves Montana, and keeps all the good paying jobs at MANG.