Q2 Morning Email Newsletter

Jul 9, 2012 11:46 PM by Governor's Office

Schweitzer drops F-15 lawsuit after assurances from Air Force

Governor Brian Schweitzer and Attorney General Steve Bullock issued a press release on Monday stating that Montana has received assurances from Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley that the F-15 fighter jets of the Montana Air National Guard in Great Falls will not be transferred to Fresno, California, before the C-130 aircraft promised in their place are provided.

The state on Monday asked the federal district court in Great Falls to dismiss "without prejudice" a lawsuit it filed late last month to immediately halt transfer of the fighter jets until a replacement mission could be secured.

The action allows the lawsuit to be re-filed if the Air Force later reneges on its agreement to delay the planned transfer and again take steps toward moving the 15 fighter jets out of Montana.

Schweitzer said in the press release, "It is essential that the Montana Air National Guard retain the ability to carry out its dual role mission of effective response to domestic emergencies. This lawsuit helped protect the people and the mission of the Montana Air National Guard and was effective in halting the transfer."

In its lawsuit, the state had argued that transferring the 120th Fighter Wing's F-15 jets without Governor Schweitzer's consent would violate federal law which states that "no change in the branch, organization, or allotment of a unit located entirely within a State may be made without the approval of its governor."

Because Schweitzer has staunchly opposed the transfer, Bullock's lawsuit argued that it should not be implemented.

Bullock said, "The lawsuit my office filed last month made it very clear to the Department of Defense that gutting the Montana Air National Guard's mission was simply not acceptable. I'm very pleased that we were effective in halting the transfer. The continued air mission here reflects the respect rightfully due the men and women who serve as Montana National Guard members. And it is vitally important to Great Falls' and the state's economy."

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