Hoeven Outlines Importance of North Dakota Missions to Air Force Secretary

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven this week joined representatives from Minot Task Force 21 and Grand Forks Air Force Base to outline the importance of North Dakota’s nuclear and unmanned aerial system (UAS) operations to Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson and Vice Chief of Staff Stephen Wilson.

“North Dakota’s missions are vital to our national defense,” said Hoeven. “Minot Air Force Base, which is home to two of the three legs of the nuclear triad, is playing an increasingly important role in deterring nuclear threats. The UAS intelligence mission out of Grand Forks provides important support for our new national defense strategy. We continue working to ensure that our men and women in uniform have the tools they need to succeed in their missions. The bipartisan budget agreement Congress passed last week will allow us to make critical investments in our military, including modernizing our nuclear forces and enhancing our UAS operations.”

As a member of the Senate Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Subcommittee and co-chair of the Senate Air Force Caucus, Hoeven has been working to support North Dakota’s missions. The budget agreement approved by Congress last week set military funding at the level approved in the Fiscal Year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Hoeven secured the following authorizations in the FY 2018 NDAA:

  • $108.6 million in authorized funding for the Air Force to replace the UH-1N Huey helicopter that provides security for the intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) located around Minot Air Force Base.
  • $586 million authorized to sustain the existing fleet of ICBMs and $215.7 million for the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent program to develop a replacement for the existing Minuteman III.
  • Authorizes $221.4 million for upgrades to the B-52 and $451 million for the Long Range Stand Off (LRSO) missile to replace the aging Air Launched Cruise Missile carried on the B-52.
  • Authorizes nearly $300 million for the Global Hawk, including the RQ-4 Global Hawk program at Grand Forks Air Force Base.
  • A Hoeven amendment that authorizes the National Guard to send unmanned aircraft pilots to a civilian contractor for training if the Air Force lacks the capacity to train pilots in a timely fashion. The amendment ensures that pilots are able to train using UAS training academies, like those at Grand Sky Technology Park, adjacent to Grand Forks Air Force Base. Hoeven played a key role in bringing Northrop Grumman and General Atomics to Grand Sky to establish these training facilities.

Last fall, Hoeven hosted the Vice President and Air Force Secretary Wilson at Minot Air Force Base to review the dual-nuclear missions. Additionally, following invitations from Hoeven, both Air Force Secretary Wilson and Defense Secretary James Mattis visited the Minot Air Force Base to see the work of the base’s airmen firsthand as they work to ensure the nation has a credible nuclear force to deter aggression against the U.S. and counter rogue nations, like North Korea.