At Montana Air National Guard, Tester Reinforces Critical Need for C-130Js

Following Trump’s raid of defense budget for border wall, Senator stresses urgent need to secure new C-130Js and replenish funding for military equipment

U.S. Senator Jon Tester reinforced his commitment to Montana’s troops and their missions following a visit to the Montana Air National Guard’s (MANG) 120th Airlift Wing in Great Falls today. The Senator highlighted the urgent need to secure new C-130J aircraft and replenish funding for the National Guard and Reserve Equipment Account (NGREA), following President Trump’s move to raid the defense budget for the construction of a border wall.

“Few things I do in Washington are as important as ensuring that Montanans are protected,” said Tester. “This starts by making sure that the men and women of the National Guard have the resources they need to carry out their missions effectively now, and well into the future. For years, I’ve been fighting to replace the National Guard’s aging aircraft with newer C-130Js, because they’re critical in helping us follow through on this commitment. Trump’s move to raid money set aside for our military equipment to pay for a wall at the southern border will jeopardize our defense capabilities and inhibit our ability to keep our country safe.”

Tester is a relentless advocate for Montana’s defense priorities. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Tester worked for years to secure funding for Montana’s defense installations and advocated for new aircraft and military construction projects- including fighting on behalf of critical modernization efforts of the aging fleet of C-130Hs. 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.

In February, Tester blasted the Trump Administration’s plan to gut critical funding from the U.S. Department of Defense military readiness and disaster relief programs, including $1.3 billion from projects under the NGREA which provides National Guard units resources to accomplish their missions safely and effectively. In Montana, Tester successfully secured funding to provide critical equipment such as fire trucks, high frequency radios, snow plows, and rescue equipment used by Guard units across the country to respond to domestic emergencies. He also called on the Department to rescind the President’s decision which would jeopardize the safety, readiness, and effectiveness of the U.S. military.

Tester also fought to secure funding for a new aircraft apron in the fiscal year 2019 Defense Appropriations package-years ahead of schedule-based on the needs of the Montana Air National Guard. Tester secured $9 million to build the aircraft apron to park MANG’s C-130s through a compromise appropriations bill that funded military construction, water projects, the Legislative Branch, and the Departments of Energy and Veterans’ Affairs. In May 2018, Tester secured Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson’s verbal commitment that construction for the C-130 apron would be funded by 2023 during a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing.