Hoeven: Global Hawk Block 20s Graduating to New Mission

Senator Outlines Opportunities for New Sky Range Mission, Converting Retired Global Hawk Block 20s into Range Hawks for Hypersonic Missile Testing

GRAND FORKS, N.D. – Senator John Hoeven today joined leaders from Northrop Grumman and Grand Sky at a retirement ceremony for the Global Hawk Block 20s, which the Air Force divested and transferred to Northrop Grumman at Grand Sky. Hoeven highlighted new opportunities for the aircraft to serve as Range Hawks, aircrafts with the sensors necessary to test hypersonic missiles as part of the Sky Range Program.

“Today is not a retirement, but a graduation for the Global Hawk Block 20s,” said Hoeven. “These aircraft have the opportunity to continue playing an important role in our nation’s defense as Range Hawks, the aircraft we need to improve testing of our nation’s most advanced missiles. This is not only important for national security, but means good jobs and economic growth for the region. We’ll continue working to bring more Global Hawks to Grand Sky and to base this exciting new mission here in North Dakota.”

At the UAS Summit and Expo earlier today, Hoeven outlined his work to develop and base the Department of Defense’s (DoD) new Sky Range program at Grand Sky. The Sky Range program will convert both Block 20s and Block 30s to be used for hypersonic missile testing. The senator invited George Rumford, the Director of DoD’s Test Resource Management Center (TRMC) who is working to develop the Sky Range Program, to the summit to highlight more details of the developing program.

In addition to the Block 20s at Grand Sky, Hoeven is making the case to bring the Air Force’s twenty Global Hawk Block 30s to Grand Sky once they are divested from active service and base the Sky Range program in North Dakota. Hoeven has been working with TRMC, the agency responsible for managing DoD test assets, including equipment and ranges, needed to test weapons developed by each branch of the Armed Services.

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.