Hoeven Advances Nuclear Modernization & Sky Range Program with Defense Secretary & Joint Chiefs Chairman

Senator Also Discusses Status of Military Aid to Ukraine, Support Needed to Repel Russia’s Invasion

WASHINGTON – At a hearing of the Senate Defense Appropriations Committee this week, Senator John Hoeven advanced the following North Dakota defense priorities critical to the security of the U.S. and its allies with Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, having:

  • Affirmed Austin and Milley’s support for U.S. nuclear modernization efforts important to Minot Air Force Base and secured their commitment to continue working with him to keep updates to the nation’s nuclear triad on schedule.
  • Urged Austin to continue supporting the Sky Range program to utilize Global Hawk unmanned aircraft at Grand Sky to support hypersonic missile tests in Grand Forks.
  • Discussed the status of military aid being provided to Ukraine, including how the funds provided by Congress have been expended so far and what additional assistance may be needed to effectively repel Russia’s invasion.

“North Dakota plays an essential role in our nation’s defense. Our state is not only home to two legs of the nuclear triad in Minot, but also supports the future of U.S. hypersonic missile technology through the Sky Range program we secured in Grand Forks,” said Hoeven. “I appreciate Defense Secretary Austin and Joint Chiefs Chairman Milley’s continued support for these critical missions, including our efforts to keep the nuclear modernization programs on track and maintain a strong deterrent for years to come. Further, our discussion was an important opportunity to review U.S. support for Ukraine and ensure the aid that Congress provided is being effectively and quickly distributed in order to push back on Russia’s aggression.”


Hoeven is working as a member of the Senate Defense Appropriations Committee to ensure updates to the nation’s nuclear forces remain on schedule and is advancing the following priorities, both in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and annual appropriations bills:

  • Upgrades to the B-52, including the new engine program.
  • The new Long Range Stand Off (LRSO) missile to replace the Air Launched Cruise Missile (ALCM) carried on the B-52.
  • The new Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD), which will replace the Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).
    • The Fiscal Year 2022 NDAA also included language prohibiting cuts to the ICBM force.
  • Warhead life extension programs at the National Nuclear Security Administration. 


The senator has also been working with the Test Resource Management Center (TRMC), which is responsible for testing U.S. weapons assets, to advance the Sky Range program, which utilizes Global Hawks located at Grand Sky to support hypersonic missile tests. Hoeven’s efforts include: 

  • Hosting TRMC Director George Rumford in North Dakota last year to see firsthand the opportunities that Grand Sky offers the agency and the Sky Range program.
  • Helping secure a contract for Northrop Grumman to convert four Global Hawk Block 20s at Grand Sky into Range Hawks for use under the Sky Range program.
  • Making the case to bring the Air Force’s Global Hawk Block 30s to Grand Sky for the Sky Range program once they are divested from active service. 

Currently, the Department of Defense (DoD) uses an aging fleet of ships deployed across a Pacific Ocean corridor to test hypersonic missiles. DoD is only able to conduct four to six tests per year, as it takes several weeks to deploy and position the ships for each test. Additionally, this process signals the testing schedule to our adversaries. Sky Range would replace the ships, which are expensive to operate, with modified Global Hawks that could deploy quickly and increase testing capacity through the creation of additional testing corridors in the Pacific and elsewhere.