Hoeven, Cramer: Grand Forks AFB to Lead Future Air Force Missions

Senators Ensure 319th Reconnaissance Wing’s Role in Future Air Force ISR Missions

GRAND FORKS, N.D. – Senators John Hoeven, a Senate Defense Appropriations Committee member, and Kevin Cramer, a Senate Armed Services Committee member, issued a joint statement today on the U.S. Air Force announcing plans for Grand Forks Air Force Base (AFB) and the 319th Reconnaissance Wing (RW).  These plans result from the senators’ advocacy with Air Force Chief of Staff General Charles Q. Brown Jr., about restructuring Air Force Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities to meet the highest national defense priorities. 

“In next year’s budget, we are addressing emerging threats posed by our adversaries and ensuring that the Air Force will have the most capable ISR systems,” said Hoeven and Cramer.  “Grand Forks Air Force Base and the 319th Reconnaissance Wing are foundational in the Air Force’s long term plan for ISR and joint all-domain command and control capabilities to meet the highest national defense priorities.”

Hoeven and Cramer have secured commitments from the Air Force to:

  • Conduct infrastructure planning in 2022 for construction and renovation projects at Grand Forks Air Force Base that will enable the 319th Reconnaissance Wing (RW) to develop and train a crew force and expand operational employment tactics for ISR systems.
  • Budget for construction and renovation projects to occur during 2023-2026 at Grand Forks Air Force Base in support of future 319th RW missions.
  • Expand the number of operational units under the command of the 319th RW that are involved in next generation missions, such as the E-11 Battlefield Airborne Control Node aircraft mission at Robins Air Force Base, GA starting in 2022 and a second geographically separated unit in the future.

As members of Senate Defense Committees, Senators Hoeven and Cramer have worked to ensure Grand Forks AFB remains core to the United States’ national security mission, prompting the Air Force to lay out its plan for North Dakota, which includes: 

  • Keeping the RQ-4 Block 40 at Grand Forks AFB through the late 2020s.
  • Ensuring Grand Forks AFB and the 319th RW is central to the Air Force’s long-term future in ISR

Hoeven and Cramer determined the Air Force’s plan to divest RQ-4 Block 30 aircraft in the Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22) budget is critical to modernizing the Air Force for the future battlefield as it will allow the Air Force to reinvest $2.2 billion over five years and reallocate approximately 800 people into advanced capabilities, such as those planned for Grand Forks AFB. 

Hoeven and Cramer are also exploring options with the Secretary of Defense for potentially using the RQ-4 system in new ways as well as transferring the equipment as excess to other federal agencies.