Delegation and Grand Forks Leaders Meet with Top Air Force Officials at the Pentagon

Group Discusses New Tankers and More UAS For Grand Forks Air Force Base

Washington - Senators Kent Conrad and John Hoeven and Congressman Rick Berg today led a delegation of Grand Forks community leaders to the Pentagon for meetings with Air Force leaders to press for increased investment in Grand Forks Air Force Base, including an expanded unmanned aerial systems (UAS) mission and the potential basing for the new KC-46A tankers.

 The delegation met with Terry Yonkers, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Installations, Environment and Logistics, and Dr. Jamie Morin, a former Conrad staffer who is now Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Financial Management and Comptroller.  The delegation also received briefings on several issues important to the base. 

 "We had a productive meeting today focused on ways we can work together to continue to expand the role of Grand Forks Air Force Base.  We made the case that the base is in a strong position for growth,” Senator Conrad said.

 "Between its growing UAS mission and a potential tanker mission, the Grand Forks Air Force Base is already playing a seminal role in our nation’s security, and its poised to do even more,” Hoeven said. “Our objective at today’s meeting was to work with Pentagon for continued support and expansion of the base.”

 “The potential for growth and development at Grand Forks Air Force Base is significant,” Congressman Berg stated.  “Today’s meeting was a valuable opportunity to work toward ensuring that North Dakota remains a leader in unmanned aircraft technology and that the Grand Forks Air Force Base has the resources it needs to achieve its goals.”

 Last month, the Defense Department announced it has awarded the contract to build the KC-46A tanker.  Now that the contract has been awarded, the Air Force must decide where the tanker will be based, a process that is expected to occur late 2012.  The delegation urged the Air Force to station new KC-46A tankers in Grand Forks.

 Grand Forks is also expected to receive 10 UAVs from the new Global Hawk 40 series in the coming years.  The first will arrive this summer.  The delegation has pushed for an expansion of the Grand Forks' UAS mission, making the case that North Dakota is leading the nation in innovation for unmanned aerial systems.

 The delegation was joined by Grand Forks Mayor Mike Brown, Air Force Civic Leader John Marshall, and representatives from the Grand Forks Region Economic Development Corporation, University of North Dakota and the Grand Forks business community.