Montana Government Fights F-15 Move from Great Falls

Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D) filed a federal lawsuit to place on hold the permanent transfer of the Montana Air National Guard’s F-15s to California. “The State of Montana is left with no choice but to act to prevent a mission gap that would leave the Montana Air National Guard at enormous risk,” stated Montana Attorney General Steve Bullock in the release explaining the complaint against the Pentagon and Air Force civilian leadership. The 120th Fighter Wing in Great Falls operates 15 F-15s. Under the Air Force’s proposed Fiscal 2013 force-structure changes, these F-15s would transfer to the California Air Guard. In return, Great Falls would get eight C-130s from the Texas Air Guard. However, the F-15s might leave “up to 18 months” before the C-130s arrive, states the complaint. That would leave an unacceptable gap that “would cause irreparable harm” to the wing’s operations, said Bullock. Accordingly, Schweitzer wants the federal court to declare that any F-15 transfer may only occur with the governor’s consent and not until the C-130s are ready to come to Great Falls, according to the June 15 complaint (caution, large-sized file). (See also Schweitzer’s earlier release.)