Hoeven: DoD Awards Contract to Northrop Grumman to Convert Global Hawks at Grand Sky for Hypersonic Missile Testing

Senator Working with DoD’s TRMC to Advance Sky Range Program in North Dakota

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven today issued the following statement after the Department of Defense (DoD) awarded a contract to Northrop Grumman to begin converting four Global Hawk Block 20s at Grand Sky into Range Hawks, aircraft with the sensors necessary to support hypersonic missile testing under the Sky Range program. The contract aligns with the senator’s ongoing efforts with DoD’s Test Resource Management Center (TRMC), the agency responsible for managing the assets needed to test weapons being developed by each branch of the Armed Services, to advance the Sky Range program in North Dakota.

To this end, Hoeven hosted TRMC Director George Rumford in North Dakota earlier this year to see the opportunities Grand Sky offers the agency and to address the state’s annual Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Summit in Grand Forks. The senator also continues 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. 

“With divestment of the Global Hawk Block 20s, we’ve worked to secure a real opportunity to leverage the expertise we’ve built at Grand Sky and repurpose these aircraft to support hypersonic missile testing,” said Hoeven. “Doing so will save the Armed Forces time and money in developing these new missiles, as the new Range Hawks will be much more efficient than the current ship-based test range and support additional options for conducting tests. This contract is an important step in advancing the Sky Range program in North Dakota, and comes as another way our state is supporting a more secure future for our country.”

Currently, 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.