NBC Montana: Tester touts C-130J aircrafts headed for Great Falls base

by Jacob Owens

U.S. Sen. Jon Tester announced this morning that the Montana Air National Guard Base in Great Falls will receive eight new C-130J aircrafts.

The C-130J planes will replace the existing fleet of C-130H aircrafts after Tester has pushed for years to update the fleet.

“The issue with the Hs are they were old, they were wore out, maintenance costs were incredibly high. Now we’ve got a new plane, new technology,” Tester told NBC Montana. “Maintenance costs will be minimal, but these guys — the men and women in the Air National Guard — will be able to use these for the best for the county. And that’s really the goal here when I started advocating for them to begin with.”

Tester helped secure more than $3.5 billion in funding for the C-130Js over the last two fiscal years in his role on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense. Tester was the only member of Congress from Montana to vote for the funding, according to the senator’s press release.

The C-130J aircrafts can be used in search and rescue, to fight fires and in overseas efforts, Tester told NBC Montana. The planes can carry up to 45,000 pounds of cargo, he said.

The Air Force did not tell Tester when the C-130Js will arrive in Great Falls, likely because the planes are still on the production line.

“It feels good today, it’s going to feel better when they touch down in Great Falls and we have those C-130Js that are ready to go to work,” he said. “That’s when we’re really going to know.”