A new Air Force C-130H flying mission has been announced for the Montana Air National Guard (MANG). Friday’s announcement from Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester is welcome news, since the Pentagon announced $259 billion in program cuts that will result in a significant loss of aircraft and jobs at other Air Guard units across the country. Baucus and Tester expect MANG’s cargo planes to provide hundreds of jobs for Montana Airmen and members of the Great Falls community.

The C-130H is a four-engine transport aircraft that can fly up to 2,360 miles without refueling. It can transport more than 90 passengers and 45,000 pounds of cargo. It is also frequently used to fight wildfires and conduct search and rescue operations.

Considered the ‘work horse’ of the Air Force, C-130Hs have been in operation since the 1950s – the longest continuous production of any military aircraft in history. The C-130H is a highly valued mission that requires significant operations and maintenance personnel. Additional details, including exact manpower numbers and the dates the aircraft will arrive, will be available when the President’s budget is released later this month.

“This mission is a victory for MANG, Great Falls and Montana — and it was no accident., “ Baucus said. “The C-130s are on their way to Gore Hill because of a lot of hard work by a lot of good people, including our Montana airmen who’ve earned National recognition for their exceptional service. I’m proud to see our hard work pay off with a strong flying mission and all the jobs that come with it.”

Baucus and Tester have made it their mission to deliver a manned flying mission to Great Falls that plays a critical role in defending the country. Tester recently told the Director of the Air National Guard, Lt. General Harry Wyatt, that MANG’s new mission must retain its outstanding airmen and make good use of the vast airspace over Montana. Baucus secured Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta’s support for MANG before Panetta was confirmed.