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September 18, 2009— North Dakota's governor, Congressional delegation, and other state officials met with top Air Force leaders on Sept. 17 to press the case for the Air National Guard's 119th Wing to get more aircraft—additional new cargo planes and more advanced remotely piloted vehicles.

The Happy Hooligans, which shed their F-16s two years ago, are on tap to receive four C-27J Spartans, but the state really wants the Air Force to agree to eight.

The Air Force, Army, and National Guard have yet to release their plan for the reduced Joint Cargo Aircraft buy—the Pentagon cut the number from 78 to only 38 in the Fiscal 2010 budget.

Gov. John Hoeven said in a Sept. 17 statement, "The Hooligans are ready and willing to take on larger missions, and would welcome additional aircraft to do so."

 The Forum reports that Maj. Gen. Dave Sprynczynatyk, the state's adjutant general, said the wing "needs to have eight [C-27Js] to be most capable in carrying out our mission."

The Hooligans are flying the C-21 VIP transport, having just returned from a tour in Southwest Asia, but that initially was intended as a holdover mission until the unit gets the C-27J cargo aircraft.

The North Dakota officials also pressed USAF to quickly advance the Hooligans from the MQ-1 Predator to the larger MQ-9 Reaper. The wing began flying combat air patrols in Southwest Asia with Predator RPVs in June 2007.

Per its 2010 budget request, the Air Force plans to hold pat on Predators and buy more Reapers.

(Also read Associated Press report via KXMC-TV)