WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Steve Daines is fighting to ensure that the C-130s of the Montana Army National Guard (MANG) are mission-ready and fully modernized by 2020.
During a Defense Appropriations Committee hearing on the President’s Fiscal-Year 2016 budget request for the National Guard and Reserve, Daines pressed Guard officials to ensure MANG’s C-130 planes are Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)-certified and flyable by 2020. Daines conveyed ongoing concerns with the Avionics Modernization Program (AMP) and the lack of clear path forward for modernization by 2020.
“We all have concerns with the Avionics Modernization Program that we will be FAA certified by 2020,” Daines stated. “What is a better path you might suggest we go down to make sure that these planes are certified and flyable by 2020?”
Daines received assurances from Director of the Air National Guard, Lieutenant General Stanley E. Clarke III, that the Guard is on track to meet the 2020 deadline.
“General, do you see a path forward then?” Daines asked Clarke. “The concern with our airmen in Montana is that we don’t see a path right now to certify by 2020.”
“This is one hot topic and we’ve been really burning the midnight oil to get this right. Thanks to cooperation with the entire Air Force, we are there,” Clarke stated. “We believe we have solid plan now to get this done.”
Daines also emphasized the importance of the RED HORSE mission and called for the Guard to continue promoting synergy and economies of scale between Montana’s two squadrons to preserve the Montana-based missions. The 219th RED HORSE is part of the Montana Air National Guard, while the 819th is part of the active-duty Air Force mission at Malmstrom Air Force Base.
Given a pending decision by the Air Force Secretary to maintain an active-duty RED HORSE Squadron either in Great Falls, MT or in Guam, Daines stressed the importance of maintaining both the 219th and the 819th in Great Falls in order to maintain this beneficial relationship to both squadrons.
Daines has long worked to defend Malmstrom Air Force Base and move forward modernization of MANG’s C-130 fleet. He worked to secure language in the FY15 appropriations bill to prohibit funds from being used to reduce the number of deployed strategic delivery vehicles and launchers, including the nation’s ICBM force, and to authorize the use of AMP alternatives to ensure that C-130s fully comply with FAA and international standards.