Baucus, Tester stand with Great Falls to announce new MANG mission

Senators and community leaders unite behind Montana’s Airmen

(BILLINGS, Mont.) – Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester today stood with Great Falls community leaders to announce a new flying mission for the Montana Air National Guard.

Baucus and Tester announced that after years of high-level meetings with Air Force leadership, they secured a C-130H mission for MANG, ensuring that Great Falls will retain a manned flying mission.  The Senators’ success comes as Pentagon budget cuts will result in significant losses of aircraft and jobs at some other Air Guard units across the country.

“I want to thank both Senator Baucus and Senator Tester for their outstanding work to bring the C-130 mission here,” said Steve Malicott, president of the Great Falls Chamber of Commerce.  “It was a daunting mission and we had multiple, multiple challenges, but they really led the way for us.”

“This has been an amazing effort on everyone’s part.  I would just like to reemphasize how much we appreciate the efforts of Senator Baucus and Senator Tester,” added David Weissman, chairman of the Central Montana Defense Alliance.  “What we’ve done with them could not have been done without them.  They’ve been a valuable and vital partner in the work of the Central Montana Defense Alliance here in Great Falls and in Washington, D.C.” 

“On behalf of the Airport Authority, I want to thank both Senator Baucus and Senator Tester,” said John Faulkner, director of Great Falls International Airport.  “They worked tirelessly for this mission for Montana.  It will keep the jobs in our community and we love having a busy place of work up here on Gore Hill.  We’re very thankful that those Guard jobs will still be next door.”

Great Falls Mayor Michael Winters also joined today’s news conference, where Tester called the new mission ‘good news for the City of Great Falls and for the state of Montana.’

The C-130H is a highly valued mission that requires significant operations and maintenance personnel.  Additional details, including exact manpower numbers and the dates the aircraft will arrive, will be available after the President’s budget is released later this month.

The Senators will continue to work closely with MANG and the Great Falls community leaders until the C-130Hs land in Montana.

Baucus and Tester have made it their mission to keep a manned flying mission for Great Falls that plays a critical role in defending the country.  Tester recently told the Director of the Air National Guard, Lt. General Harry Wyatt, that MANG’s new mission must retain its outstanding airmen and make good use of the vast airspace over Montana.  Baucus secured Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta’s support for MANG before Panetta was confirmed.
Last week, the Pentagon announced $259 billion in cuts, including an entire training squadron of F-15s, five squadrons of A-10 aircraft, and one Guard squadron of F-16s that will be retired.  The moves will reduce the number of flying missions for the Air National Guard and reduce the number of Air Guardsmen nationally by 5,100. 
The C-130H is a four-engine transport aircraft that can fly up to 2,360 miles without refueling.  It can transport more than 90 passengers and 45,000 pounds of cargo.  It is also frequently used to fight wildfires and conduct search and rescue operations.