Hoeven: Defense Authorization Bill Supports North Dakota Air Base Missions

Provisions Benefit Minot, Grand Forks Air Force Bases, N.D. Air Guard

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven said the new Fiscal Year 2013 Department of Defense (DoD) Authorization Act passed by the U.S. Senate today provides support for North Dakota air base missions in Fargo, Grand Forks and Minot. Hoeven, who serves on the Appropriations Committee, has pushed for strong national defense measures. The House earlier passed its own version of the defense bill and both measures will now go to a joint Senate-House conference committee to be reconciled.

The DoD authorization measure includes provisions to ensure continued funding and operations for the C-27J cargo aircraft based in Fargo, the Global Hawk unmanned aerial systems based in Grand Forks and the B-52 bomber and intercontinental ballistic missile system (ICBM) based in Minot.

“One of the most important jobs we have in the Senate is to make sure that our military forces have the tools and technology they need to defend our nation, both at home and abroad,” Hoeven said. “The DoD Authorization bill we passed today makes sure that North Dakota’s air bases at Minot, Grand Forks and Fargo continue to play a big role in protecting our country.”

Fargo Air National Guard Base

The legislation continues funding in Fiscal Year 2013 and sets up an evaluation of the C-27J. Hoeven said the decision to retain the aircraft makes sense for the Air Force because the C-27J is newer and less expensive to operate than the larger C-130. The C-27J is a smaller, more flexible cargo aircraft able to operate in remote and rough environments and can take off and land from unprepared surfaces and short airstrips.

Grand Forks Air Force Base

Grand Forks Air Force Base received its first Global Hawk last year as part of the base’s new unmanned aerial systems mission. This legislation strengthens that mission by fulfilling the Pentagon’s request for Fiscal Year 2013 funding to procure the RQ-4 Global Hawk. Separate appropriations legislation also instructed the Air Force to use prior-year funding to complete Global Hawk purchases that will eventually replace the aging U-2 spy plane.

The RQ-4 Global Hawk program calls for 31 Block 30 Global Hawks and 11 Block 40 Global Hawks, which will eventually be used to phase out the older U-2 manned surveillance aircraft with a safer, more modern unmanned system. Replacing the U-2 will strengthen the UAS mission at Grand Forks Air Force Base, which is home to several Global Hawk Block 40 aerial systems, by expanding the Global Hawk’s mission. Hoeven is working with the city and the air base to make Grand Forks the premier northern UAS center in the country.

Minot Air Force Base

The legislation includes Senator Hoeven’s amendment to support and modernize all three legs of the United States nuclear triad, including nuclear bombers and both land-based and sea-based ICBMs.

The Minot Air Force Base is home to both the 5th Bomb Wing and the 91st Missile Wing. The bill authorizes $156 million in ICBM-related procurement and $280 million for ICBM-related research and development. In addition, the measure provides $63 million in B-52-related procurements and research and development. The ICBM and B-52 funding will be used to modernize the fleet and extend their service life.