Air Force delays basing decision for newer model cargo planes

The Air Force has delayed its basing decision on C-130J planes to replace the older models currently in use at some Air National Guard units.

The 120th Airlift Wing of the Montana Air National Guard is one of eight bases nationwide on the shortlist for the newer planes.

Montana on shortlist to receive new C-130 aircraft

The Pentagon did not address the reasoning for the delay but in a statement to The Electric, an Air Force spokesperson said, “It’s still going through the strategic basing process, a final basing decision has not yet been made.”

Sen. Jon Tester said in a release this week, “I’m highly disappointed in the Air Force’s decision to delay this announcement until after the election while Montanans continue to fly and maintain the oldest C-130s in the Air Force’s inventory. We simply cannot afford to keep kicking the can down the road when it comes to our national security and the safety of the American people. This Administration needs to recognize that our nation’s strong defense starts by guaranteeing that the men and women of the Montana National Guard have modernized aircraft to effectively fulfill their flying missions now, and well into the future.”

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The Air Force is planning to select three of the Guard’s current C-130H units to receive the new planes as it reduces its overall C-130 inventory.

Great Falls considered for new Air Force mission

Tester told The Electric earlier this year that the Air Force has plans to shutter four cargo units over the next five years and if the 120th doesn’t get the new aircraft, Montana could be considered to lose the cargo mission altogether.

The three selected sites, will eventually be home to a combined 24 aircraft, replacing older C-130H aircraft.

Candidate sites include:

  • Bradley Air Guard Station, Connecticut (103rd Airlift Wing);
  • Savannah Air Guard Station, Georgia (165th Airlift Wing);
  • Peoria Air Guard Station, Illinois (182nd Airlift Wing);
  • Louisville Air Guard Station, Kentucky (123rd Airlift Wing);
  • Great Falls Air Guard Station, Montana (120th Airlift Wing);
  • Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, Texas (136th Airlift Wing);
  • Yeager Air Guard Station, West Virginia (130th Airlift Wing); and
  • Cheyenne Air Guard Station, Wyoming (153rd Airlift Wing).

During site surveys, Air Force teams will look at mission, capacity, cost and environmental factors for each location, according to a spokesman for the Air National Guard. The candidate sites were selected by the Air National Guard and approved by the Air Force secretary.