Hoeven & Bipartisan Group of Senators Urge Air Force to Set Timeline for Replacement of Huey Helicopters

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and co-chair of the Senate Air Force Caucus, today joined a bipartisan group of senators in urging the U.S. Air Force to provide a detailed timeline for the replacement of Vietnam-era helicopters, the UH-1N Huey, that are used to patrol the country’s Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) sites. Hoeven is working to secure nearly $109 million in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 defense appropriations legislation to support the purchase of a new helicopter fleet.

“Our nuclear triad continues to grow as an essential element of our nation’s defense strategy,” said Hoeven. “As we modernize our nuclear arsenal, we must ensure that our nation’s missile silos are secured. That’s why we’ve pressed the Air Force to detail its plans for replacing the Huey helicopter fleet and providing our airmen with the tools they need to succeed in their mission.”

In today’s letter to Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson, the senators raised concerns that recent actions by the Air Force and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) have derailed the scheduled arrival of replacement helicopters at Minot, Malmstrom and F.E. Warren Air Force Bases. The group pressed Wilson to provide greater transparency on the Air Force’s plans for ensuring the security of the missile fields.

The bipartisan group previously expressed concerns to the Air Force that the decades old Huey helicopter fleet lacks the capability to meet existing security requirements at the country’s ICBM sites, a concern shared by the U.S. Strategic Command, and proposed a replacement plan to use an existing Army contract to replace the fleet with better equipped helicopters. The Air Force ultimately opposed that replacement plan and has yet to reward a purchasing contract during the current fiscal year.