Air Force reaffirms C-130 mission for MT Air National Guard


by David Sherman

The U.S. Air Force this week reaffirmed its committment to deliver eight C-130s to Great Falls by 2014.

The Air Force originally announced the C-130 mission for the Montana Air National Guard in February, but it was uncertain when the cargo planes would arrive. The mission is expected to provide hundreds of jobs for Montana Airmen and members of the Great Falls community.

At a Senate hearing this week to consider the Air Force's budget, U.S. Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) asked Assistant Secretary of the Air Force Terry Yonkers and Air National Guard Deputy Director General William Etter for more specifics on the C-130s' arrival.

Gen Etter said, "We'd like to do it as soon as possible, but we need time to make sure we address the military construction issues and also training, conversion, and new facilities."

Etter said that within 90 days, he would provide Tester with an exact date for the C-130s' arrival.

Yonkers said that the Air Force is setting aside $27 million to accommodate the C-130s and new construction needs, such as bigger aircraft hangars.

The officials said that even if the hangars are not completed in time, MANG's existing facilities could handle the C-130s.