BREAKING: Tester Secures 8 New C-130J Aircraft for Montana Air National Guard’s 120th Airlift Wing in Great Falls

Following Senator’s years-long push, Air Force announces that Great Falls base has been selected to receive new C-130Js

Following sustained efforts from U.S. Senator Jon Tester, the U.S. Air Force announced today that the Montana Air National Guard Base (MANG) in Great Falls will receive eight C-130J aircraft. Tester has been a relentless advocate for critical modernization efforts of MANG’s aging fleet of C-130Hs and has fought for years to bring new C-130Js to Montana.

“Keeping Montanans safe is my top priority, and that means making sure our armed forces and Montana military installations have the tools they need to address evolving threats and protect our state and country,” said Tester. “I’ve fought for years to bring new C-130Js to the Montana Air National Guard because they are the perfect fit for Montana – they can carry up to 45,000 pounds of cargo, can be used to fight wildfires, and can conduct search and rescue operations. It’s a big plane with a big mission – and it’s the right fit for a big state like Montana.”

For years, Tester has fought on behalf of MANG—advocating for new aircraft and military construction projects, while fighting for critical modernization efforts for its aging fleet of C-130Hs.

As Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, Tester has made bringing C-130Js to Montana a top priority. Tester successfully secured more than $1.7 billion in funding for 16 C-130Js in the most recent FY23 Appropriations Package, and $1.8 billion in funding for 16 C-130Js for the Air National Guard in the FY22 Appropriations Package. Tester was the only member of Montana’s congressional delegation to vote for this funding.

During a 2021 Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee hearing on Navy and Air Force Weapons Systems Divestments, Tester secured a commitment from the U.S. Air Force that they would not decommission MANG’s C-130H aircraft fleet without first consulting with and receiving agreement from the state of Montana. In 2020, Tester announced that MANG was one of eight finalists to be considered to receive new C-130J aircraft to replace the aging C-130H fleet. During a 2020 visit to MANG, Tester highlighted the urgent need to secure new C-130J aircraft. He successfully included legislation in the fiscal year 2016 National Defense Authorization Act, providing the Air Force with the authorization and funding it needed to modernize its C-130H fleet. Tester’s years-long record of fighting to modernize MANG’s jet fleet extends all the way back to 2008.  

In April of this year, Tester brought Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall and top Air Force leadership to Montana Air National Guard’s 120th Airlift Wing and Malmstrom Air Force Base to meet directly with servicemembers, discuss DOD’s response to incidents of rare cancers among missileers, assess readiness capabilities as Congress works on next year’s military budget, and receive updates on Malmstrom’s response to the Chinese spy balloon.

As the Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, Tester is responsible for crafting the annual Senate Defense Appropriations Bill which funds the entire Department of Defense – including the entire Air Force and operations at Montana Air National Guard Base and Malmstrom Air Force Base.