Baucus, Tester will announce new flying mission for MANG
‘Work horse’ aircraft to maintain job strength in Great Falls
(GREAT FALLS, Mont.) – Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester will today join forces in Great Falls to announce a new flying mission for the Montana Air National Guard.
After years of top-level meetings and advocacy, Baucus and Tester will today announce that they have secured an Air Force C-130H mission for MANG. Today’s announcement comes after the Pentagon announced $259 billion in program cuts that will result in a significant loss of aircraft and jobs at other Air Guard units across the country. Both Senators pushed the Air Force and the National Guard Bureau to ensure that Great Falls would retain a manned flying mission.
"This mission is a victory for MANG, Great Falls and Montana — and it was no accident. The C-130s are on their way to Gore Hill because of a lot of hard work by a lot of good people, including our Montana airmen who've earned National recognition for their exceptional service," Baucus said. "I'm proud to see our hard work pay off with a strong flying mission and all the jobs that come with it."
Tester called today’s announcement a result of "the world-class reputation of MANG and its men and women."
"During countless meetings and phone calls with the Pentagon and community leaders in Great Falls, our goal in securing this mission was to keep a flying mission for the Air Guard while maintaining our job strength," Tester said. "This mission does both–in a way that fits our nation's military strategy and our state's homeland security needs. This move will strengthen our State and the community of Great Falls, and I look forward to its arrival."
Considered the ‘work horse’ of the Air Force, C-130Hs have been in operation since the 1950s – the longest continuous production of any military aircraft in history.
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 when the President’s budget is released later this month.
Baucus and Tester expect MANG's cargo planes to provide hundreds of jobs for Montana Airmen and members of the Great Falls community.
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 not be replaced. 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.
Baucus and Tester have made it their mission to deliver a manned flying mission to 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.
The Senators will continue to work closely with MANG and the Great Falls community leaders until the C-130Hs land in Montana.
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.