GREAT FALLS -U.S. Senators Jon Tester (D-MT) and Steve Daines (R-MT) are working to keep the Montana Air National Guard flying.
During a recent meeting of the Senate Defense Appropriations Committee, Tester announced he was introducing legislation to make sure the C-130 fleet of the 120th Airlift Wing is upgraded.
Tester said, “My fear is we end up with a fleet of C-130s that is incapable of operating in domestic air space, and they will end up sitting on a runway somewhere until they are mothballed.”
The Federal Aviation Administration has set a deadline for the upgrades for 2020.
Tester’s bill will give the Air Force the budgetary flexibility it needs to implement safety and compliance upgrades to C-130s.
Daines brought up the concern about the upgrades to Lieutenant General Stanley Clarke, the director of the Air National Guard.
Daines said, “General, do you see a path forward then? The concern with our airmen in Montana is that we don’t see a path right now to certify by 2020. Do you see a clear path there?”
Clarke replied, “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. We believe we have solid plan now to get this done.”
Daines also brought up the importance of the 219th RED HORSE engineering unit, which is a part of the Montana Air National Guard.
He also stressed the importance of keeping the 819th RED HORSE at Malmstrom Air Force Base in order to maintain the relationship between the active-duty and the Guard sides.
There is a pending decision about whether the Air Force will move the 819 RHS join the RED HORSE unit that is stationed in Guam.