First C-21 arrives in North Dakota

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Penny Ripperger
  • North Dakota Air National Guard
The first official 119th Fighter Wing C-21 aircraft arrived Jan. 10 in Fargo.

The aircraft marks the unit's transition from the F-16 Fighting Falcon to the C-21 and MQ-1 Predator unmanned aerial vehicle.

"The Happy Hooligans have proven themselves as the best of the best in every mission they have been assigned," North Dakota Governor John Hoeven said. "The C-21 mission along with the new Predator mission will ensure that the North Dakota Air National Guard continues to play a vital role in the security of our state and nation."

"The 119th Fighter Wing will receive a total of eight C-21 aircraft and will be experiencing the largest transformation in their 60-year history," said Army Maj. Gen. David A. Sprynczynatyk, the state's National Guard adjutant general. "Personnel have been training diligently for the past year to ensure that they are prepared for these new missions that will ensure that our Air National Guard remains relevant and vital to the defense of the nation."

"The Happy Hooligans have prepared for the C-21 by having trained pilots and maintenance personnel ready to work on these aircraft," said Col. Robert Becklund, 119th Fighter Wing commander. "I am confident that we will continue to perform with the high standards and impressive work ethic that the Hooligans are already well-known for in the fighter community."

The C-21 aircraft is considered a "bridge mission" until approximately 2010 when it is expected to be replaced by the new joint cargo aircraft.

UAV operations are expected to begin at the Fargo base around March 2007. North Dakota will be one of five states where Air Guard units will operate the unmanned aerial vehicles; others are Texas, California, Arizona and New York.