Hoeven: Global Hawk Block 30 Fleet to Come to Grand Sky for Sky Range Hypersonic Missile Testing Mission

Senator Secured Agreement to Ensure Future Missions for GFAFB; Entire Block 20 & Block 30 Fleets to Be Housed at Grand Sky

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven today announced that: 

  • The Air Force will retire the Global Hawk Block 30 fleet and transfer all twenty aircraft to Grand Sky to be converted into Range Hawks for the Test Resource Management Center’s (TRMC) Sky Range hypersonic missile testing program.
  • Air Force leadership affirmed their commitment to make additional investments in Grand Forks from now through 2026 to support future missions at Grand Forks Air Force Base.

Today’s announcement is possible due to an agreement that Hoeven secured with Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Brown. As a member of the Senate Defense Appropriations Committee, Hoeven adjusted language in annual funding legislation to enable the Air Force to divest the Block 30 fleet and transfer it to TRMC, similar to the senator’s efforts with the four Block 20 aircraft that were transferred to Grand Sky last year. The transfer is expected to be completed by the end of July 2022.

“The transfer of the Global Hawk Block 30 fleet to Grand Sky is a win for both Grand Forks and our entire nation,” said Hoeven. “Our state will have more aircraft than before due to the entire Block 20 and Block 30 fleets being at Grand Sky, while at the same time, we will have a stronger national defense as the Sky Range program will significantly enhance our ability to test and develop hypersonic missiles. This is only possible due to the agreement we struck with the Air Force last year. Between this addition and the Space Development Agency operations center we’ve secured, Grand Sky and the Grand Forks Air Force Base are positioned to be major players in hypersonic missiles, as well as the ISR and satellite missions of the future.”

Today’s announcement follows Hoeven’s efforts with TRMC, which oversees the infrastructure needed to test U.S. weapons systems, to advance the Sky Range program and base it in North Dakota. The senator’s efforts include:  

  • Hosting TRMC Director George Rumford in North Dakota last year to see firsthand the opportunities that Grand Sky offers the agency and the Sky Range program.
  • Helping secure a contract for Northrop Grumman to convert four Global Hawk Block 20s at Grand Sky into Range Hawks for use under the Sky Range program.
  • 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. 

Currently, the Department of Defense (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.