Hoeven: Grand Sky is Ideal Home for New Sky Range Program, Repurposing Global Hawks for Missile Testing

Senator Working to Convert Block 20s and 30s to Range Hawks Based in ND

GRAND FORKS, N.D. – Senator John Hoeven today opened the UAS Summit and Expo by announcing efforts to develop and base the Department of Defense’s (DoD) new Sky Range program at Grand Sky. Under Sky Range, Global Hawk Block 20s and 30s will be converted to Range Hawks, aircraft with the sensors necessary to test hypersonic missiles. 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 see firsthand the opportunities in the Grand Forks region and address the conference.

The U.S. Air Force has already divested four Global Hawk Block 20s to Grand Sky to be converted to Range Hawks. Now, 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. 

“Grand Sky already supports Global Hawk activities and can provide hangers to modify and house additional aircraft, making it the ideal location to base the Sky Range program,” said Hoeven. “We do not want these aircraft to retire, we want them to graduate to a new mission that will accelerate development of our nation’s most advanced missile technology as well as increase activity and jobs at the technology park. Sky Range is a big opportunity that we’re working to make a reality.”

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.