Tester statement on C-27J announcement

(MISSOULA, Mont.) – U.S. Senator Jon Tester released the following statement after a phone call today with General Norton Schwartz, the Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force, regarding news that the Montana Air National Guard in Great Falls is the preferred location to accommodate a new C-27J aircraft mission:

“I appreciate that the Air Force plans to keep a flying mission at Great Falls.  It’s a clear vote of confidence for the Airmen who work at MANG.

“Montana and the Airmen who serve here are ready for the challenge of any mission, and we welcome it.  But whatever the mission, we need to keep all of the jobs.  The Air Force still has work to do to justify any plans to move Montana’s F-15 fighters out of state.  As it stands, the Air Force is spending an awful lot of money with no clear benefit to national security.  I can’t support that decision yet.  I want to make sure that moving the F-15s is in the best interest of our national security, Montana jobs, and American taxpayers.”

Although no formal decision has been made by the Pentagon, it’s estimated that moving MANG’s current F-15 mission to Fresno, California, would cost more than $66 million in construction and retraining.

During today’s phone call, Tester pushed the Air Force to maintain MANG’s current level of manpower despite a possible decision to relocate the F-15 mission.  Tester stressed that any reduction in MANG’s mission, or delay between missions, could jeopardize the recruitment and retention of Montana’s Airmen.