GREAT FALLS, Mont. --
A new state-of-the-art C-130 Hercules aircraft maintenance hangar was dedicated and placed into service at the Montana Air National Guard’s 120th Airlift Wing April 6.
The addition of the new Building 80 and renovation of Building 25 was designed to accommodate the larger C-130 transport aircraft assigned to the wing following its conversion from a fighter mission to an airlift mission.
“This is a really exciting time for us right now because we’ve been waiting on this hangar for about one year,” said 120th AW Maintenance Group Commander Col. Buel Dickson. “It’s going to improve our capabilities. This will help out with timing, with manpower and will save money for the Air Force.”
Building 80 houses the corrosion control and fuel cell maintenance facility and was constructed next to the original main hangar Building 25.
Building 25 also underwent extensive renovations during the recent construction that updated maintenance shop areas, administrative offices and training and command areas of the building. A passageway was also built between the two hangars to allow maintenance personnel to share tools and equipment from a tool room located between the two facilities.
According to MTANG documented history, the main hangar was built in 1954 and was designed to shelter F-51 Mustang fighter aircraft.
“The 1950s vintage hangar has supported the 120th for many, many years,” said 120th AW Base Civil Engineer Todd Mortag. “Under the fighter mission the fighters all fit within that hangar. With the C-130 mission we did about an 8,000 square foot addition to the existing hangar in order for the facility to fully encapsulate the C-130.”
Dickson said before the new hangar construction and renovation C-130 aircraft maintenance had to be performed at other bases or outdoors on the flight line, often in inclement weather.
“Our personnel were wearing cold-weather gear and using heaters to keep their hands warm and it slowed down the maintenance process quite a bit,” Dickson said. “This (new construction) is going to improve production and is going to improve life for the Airmen as well.”
Mortag said the two-phase construction of Building 80 and renovation of Building 25 started in October 2014 and cost $21 million. This construction has resulted in the consolidation of 90 percent of all 120AW aircraft maintenance functions and activities into one location.
Wing members assembled in the new hangar to watch the first C-130 towed into the building to undergo aircraft maintenance.
“We’re very fortunate we had great support here within our wing,” Mortag said. “It will be nice to turn these buildings over to our aircraft maintenance folks so they can do their job here at home station in an enclosed area.”