Updated: Sept. 15, 8:45 p.m.
Minnesota’s Air National Guard has been selected to get the military’s newest cargo aircraft — an upgrade of the C-130, the U.S. Air Force said Thursday.
The placement of new C-130J Super Hercules planes at the Twin Cities-based 133rd Airlift Wing is pending the completion of an environment assessment.
The C-130J planes offer upgraded avionics, can carry more weight at nearly twice the speed, can use shorter runways and fly with fewer crew than the aging C-130H, the Air Force said.
The state’s entire congressional delegation lobbied in rare unity to help convince Pentagon officials that Minnesota should be included in the upgrade. At a news conference at the airlift wing on Friday, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said that unity helped seal the deal.
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“One of the things that we brought, that not every state had, is that we did this as a delegation from Day One,” she said. “Maybe we don’t agree on every issue, but we agreed big-time on this.”
“The beauty of it is, it’s not a political issue. This is about supporting the brave men and women of the Minnesota Air National Guard,” said U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Minn. Republican Representative Tom Emmer. “This was a true team effort years in the making and serves as an example of what we can accomplish when we work together as Minnesotans.”
The C-130s are the primary airlift planes for the U.S. military. National Guard units, including the 133rd Airlift Wing, fly about half of the country’s C-130 fleet.
The Air Force is designating eight of the new craft to Guard units in four states, also including Connecticut, Montana and Illinois. The Air Force said it would conduct an environmental impact analysis at each location before a final decision is made.