Hoeven Amendment to Provide More UAS Pilot Training Options for National Guard Approved in NDAA

NDAA Modernizes Military, Improves Readiness and Supports Troops

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven today announced that the U.S. Senate has passed the Fiscal Year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) with an amendment he authored that ensures National Guard unmanned aircraft pilots receive timely training by leveraging the expertise of civilian contractors, like General Atomics, which has a unmanned aerial systems (UAS) training facility at Grand Sky Technology Park. 

“This legislation supports our troops, modernizes our military and helps ensure that our nation is ready to counter threats and challenges to our security,” said Hoeven. “That includes having pilots trained and ready to fly UAS missions. My amendment will help provide UAS pilots with more timely training by authorizing the Guard to utilize UAS training schools, like those at Grand Sky. UAS pilots have often faced delays in their training and this will provide more options to get these pilots fully trained.”

Hoeven UAS Pilot Training Amendment

Specifically, the Hoeven amendment authorizes the National Guard to send unmanned aircraft pilots to a civilian contractor for training if the Air Force lacks the capacity to train pilots in a timely fashion. For many years, the Air Force has struggled to train enough pilots to fly the Predator and Reaper, and the Air National Guard has often seen delays in getting its pilots fully trained for these platforms. Hoeven’s amendment ensures that pilots are able to train using UAS training academies, like those at Grand Sky Technology Park, adjacent to Grand Forks Air Force Base. Hoeven played a key role in bringing Northrop Grumman and General Atomics to Grand Sky to establish these training facilities.

NDAA Modernizes Military and Supports Troops 

The NDAA authorizes defense programs and helps modernize the nation’s military, while also supporting the nation’s troops by providing a pay raise for members of the uniformed service and ensuring Guard members deployed on pre-planned missions receive health care benefits. The legislation provides strong support for North Dakota’s defense missions at Grand Forks and Minot Air Force Base.  

“With emerging threats around the globe, providing our military with the tools they need to counter and deter aggression is more important than ever,” said Hoeven. “The Defense Authorization Act authorizes strong funding for our military, including for North Dakota defense priorities, such as modernizing our nuclear forces at Minot Air Force Base and strong support for the Global Hawk mission out of Grand Forks.”    

NDAA Support for North Dakota Missions

  • Authorizes nearly $300 million for the Global Hawk, including the RQ-4 Global Hawk program at Grand Forks Air Force Base.
  • $108.6 million in authorized funding for the Air Force to replace the UH-1N Huey helicopter that provides security for the intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) located around Minot Air Force Base.
  • $617 million authorized to sustain the existing fleet of ICBMs and $215.7 million for the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent program to develop a replacement for the existing Minuteman III.
  • Authorizes $221.4 million for upgrades to the B-52 and $451 million for the Long Range Stand Off (LRSO) missile to replace the aging Air Launched Cruise Missile carried on the B-52.

Supports the Troops

  • Authorizes a 2.1 percent across-the-board pay raise for members of the uniformed services. 
  • Authorizes health care benefits for members of the National Guard who are deployed for pre-planned operations. This will help members of the North Dakota Guard who deploy to Washington, DC as part of Operation Noble Eagle.  Hoeven has sponsored legislation that addresses these benefits.