Montana Public Radio: Montana Air National Guard will get updated cargo planes

by Ellis Juhlin

Montana’s Air National Guard will receive eight new, long-awaited cargo planes to update their fleet. Montana’s 120th Airlift Wing is one of four National Guard locations across the country selected to receive new aircraft.

The Great Falls base will get eight new C-130J cargo planes to replace their current fleet. It has over 900 members that support national security and emergency assistance efforts under the National Guard’s dual mission.

The new planes, called the Super Hercules cargo aircraft are larger, faster and capable of traveling further distances than the base’s current planes. The updated planes will be used for search and rescue missions, firefighting efforts and other kinds of disaster relief.

All four members of Montana’s congressional delegation, and Gov. Greg Gianforte praised the decision to send these new planes to Montana. Montana’s Senior Senator Jon Tester first co-sponsored legislation in 2015 to update the Montana Air National Guard’s aircraft. As Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, he championed the $1.8 billion defense budget that included funding for the aircraft and passed Congress earlier this year.

The funding is part of a larger $1.8 billion defense budget Congress passed earlier this year.

It’s not yet known when the planes will arrive.