Great Falls Tribune: Senators make pitch for extra C-27J aircraft

Montana’s U.S. senators Monday asked the Air Force and National Guard Bureau to add at least one extra C-27J aircraft to the new mission being assigned to the Montana Air National Guard.

Sens. Max Baucus and Jon Tester joined senators from other states set to receive the maneuverable, medium-sized transport plane in urging Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz and National Guard Bureau Chief Gen. Craig McKinley to boost the number of planes per Guard base from four to at least five.

The Air Force’s original plan called for buying 38 planes and allocating four each to nine Air National Guard bases. One, in Mississippi, would get an additional two planes for training.

Just seven bases have been named so far, including the Montana Air National Guard, stationed at Great Falls International Airport.

The Air Force also has announced plans to shift MANG’s F-15 aircraft to the California Air Guard base in Fresno pending environmental reviews.

MANG officials have projected Montana would lose about one-third of its 900 traditional, part-time Guard members if the unit loses the F-15s and gets only four C-27J aircraft.

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