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By Caroline Cummings
/ CBS Minnesota
ST. PAUL, Minn. — The United States Air Force on Friday selected Minnesota’s 133rd Airlift Wing to receive eight new “top of the line” aircrafts that will better equip airmen and women during their missions around the world.
It’s one of four locations chosen to get new C-130J “Super Hercules” planes that are an upgrade from earlier models. The 133rd Wing will get eight of them, which will eventually replace the 25-year-old fleet it has today.
“This is an important announcement and will modernize the 133rd Airlift Wing, ensuring our Minnesota Air Guard service members remain at the forefront of the future fight,” said Maj. Gen. Shawn Manke, the adjutant general for the Minnesota National Guard.
Brig. Gen. Daniel Gabrielli said the planes won’t arrive until at least 2026 and it will take even more time to transition away from the current C-130H models, which will find a new unit. Pilots will need five to six months of training once they’re in St. Paul.
“It’s bigger. It’s faster. It can carry more. It has more capability,” Gabrielli explained, noting they can fly 900 miles further than the H models.
The 133rd Wing is the oldest federal-recognized flying unit in the National Guard and has provided humanitarian assistance, transported equipment and personnel, and responded to natural disasters, among some of its missions.
Officials said during a news conference Friday that this is the culmination of three years of tireless work by the Guard, Gov. Tim Walz and Minnesota’s Congressional Delegation making the case that Minnesota should a home base for these new aircraft.
DFL Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith, and Republican Congressmen Tom Emmer, Pete Stauber and Brad Finstad joined to celebrate the announcement.
“This was a team effort with the delegation. We all brought different things to this, what I’ll call competition,” Klobuchar said. “Onne of the things we brought that not every state had is that we did this as a delegation from day one.”
The delegation noted that the push to get the planes was a bipartisan show of force and credited each other for their work on the issue.
“The beauty of it is it’s not a political issue,” U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer, a Republican from the Sixth Congressional District. “This is about supporting the brave men and women of the Minnesota National Guard. The 133rd Air Wing will now be equipped with the best possible aircraft for your mission.”
Caroline Cummings is an Emmy-winning reporter with a passion for covering politics, public policy and government. She is thrilled to join the WCCO team.
First published on September 15, 2023 / 5:41 PM
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