Following Tester Push to Air Force, Montana Air National Guard Announced as First Base to Receive New C-130J Aircraft

Senator pushed the Air Force to select MANG for earliest possible delivery;

As Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, Tester has consistently funded C-130Js, made bringing the aircraft to Montana a top priority

Following sustained efforts from U.S. Senator Jon Tester, the U.S. Air Force announced that the Montana Air National Guard Base (MANG) in Great Falls will officially be the first of four selected military bases to receive delivery of new C-130J aircraft. Tester applied pressure on Air Force leadership resulting in MANG being selected for delivery ahead of the Connecticut, Minnesota, and Illinois Air National Guard bases. Tester first announced in September that MANG would receive eight C-130J aircraft and pushed the Air Force to select MANG for the earliest delivery possible.

“The brave guardsmen and women serving at Montana Air National Guard deserve top-flight tools to help keep our state and country safe,” said Tester. “That’s why I fought for years to bring new C-130Js to MANG, and it’s why I made the case directly to Air Force leadership that the first base to receive these updated fleets should be right here in Montana. The C-130Js are a big plane with a big mission, and I’m looking forward to seeing the fleet up and running to help ensure a big state like Montana remains the greatest state in the greatest country in the world.”

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 secured $840 million in the latest FY24 Appropriations package to help ensure MANG’s C-130J deliveries remain on schedule. Additionally, Tester successfully secured more than $1.7 billion in funding for 16 C-130Js in the 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 2023, 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.