Hoeven, ICBM Coalition Meet with Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator John Hoeven this week met with U.S. Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James to press for continued support of Minot Air Force Base’s (MAFB) priorities, including modernizing the B-52 fleet and replacing the UH-1N helicopter. Hoeven and James also discussed upgrading the nuclear cruise missile, which is a critical part of the B-52 mission at MAFB.

Hoeven, Senator Steve Daines (R-Mont.) and other members of the Senate Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) Coalition met with the Secretary to press for priorities important to ensuring a strong nuclear deterrent. Hoeven is also working as a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee to support Minot’s missions as the Senate works on Fiscal Year 2017 appropriations legislation.

“Minot Air Force Base hosts two legs of the nation’s nuclear triad and is an important part of our nation’s defense,” said Hoeven. “We need to ensure that our airmen and women have the tools they need to succeed in their missions. We pressed the Secretary for her support as we work to move forward on initiatives to upgrade our ICBMs, replace the aging Huey helicopter and develop a new nuclear cruise missile.”

• The Secretary updated the coalition on the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent program, which will develop a new missile to replace the current Minuteman III. Hoeven urged Secretary James to keep the program on schedule because there is a significant amount of work to be done to design the missile before it can go into production. Hoeven supports full funding of the program for Fiscal Year 2017, which would amount to $114 million.

• Hoeven stressed the urgent need to replace the aging UH-1N, which is used at Minot Air Force Base to secure the missile fields, and committed to work with the Department of Defense and the Senate Appropriations Committee on ways to accelerate the replacement of the UH-1N.

• Hoeven also asked Secretary James about the Long Range Stand Off (LRSO) program, which will provide a nuclear-capable missile to replace the existing nuclear Air Launched Cruise Missile carried on the B-52. Secretary James confirmed that the program remains on track. Hoeven supports full funding of that program, which would be $95 million in Fiscal Year 2017. Hoeven also worked to support the refurbishment of the warhead that will be carried on the LRSO missile. The Senate Energy and Water appropriations bill includes $220 million for that program in Fiscal Year 2017.

In March, Hoeven reviewed operations at Minot Air Force Base and highlighted his work to pass the National Defense Authorization Act, which fully authorized the FY16 Air Force budget for the ICBM and B-52 missions at Minot AFB, including the Nuclear Force Improvement Program (NFIP). The senator also worked to secure funding for its missions in the year-end appropriations measure.

Hoeven has also been working to secure a new remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) mission at Grand Forks Air Force Base with Assistant Secretary of the Air Force Miranda Ballentine and General Herbert J. “Hawk” Carlisle, commander of Air Combat Command. General Carlisle has called for a new RPA wing to augment the Air Force’s fleet of MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper RPAs. Hoeven cited the following assets supporting a favorable decision for Grand Forks Air Force Base include:

• Grand Forks Air Force Base’s existing Global Hawk mission
• Customs and Border Protection’s northern border patrol operations using the MQ-1
• Grand Sky, the county’s new UAS Technology and Business Park, which hosts Northrop Grumman and General Atomics, manufacturer of the MQ-1 and MQ-9
• The John D. Odegard School of Aerospace at the University of North Dakota
• A new cooperative agreement between UND and DHS on UAS security