Hoeven Outlines Mission Enhancements, Growth at Hector Field with Completion of 119th Wing’s New MQ-9 Ops Center

Senator Secured $17.5 Million for Construction; Former Facility to Be Utilized as Sky Range Hypersonic Missile Testing Data Center

FARGO, N.D. – Senator John Hoeven today helped dedicate the North Dakota Air National Guard 119th Wing’s new MQ-9 Reaper Operations Center and outlined his efforts to support the continued growth and enhancement of missions at Hector Field. This includes:

  • Working as a member of the Senate Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Committee to:
    • Secure $17.5 million for the 26,000 sq. ft., state-of-the-art operations center, which was needed to support new advanced technology and equipment.
    • Accelerate the project’s construction timeline and prevent disruption to the 119th Wing’s missions.
  • Funding upgrades for the MQ-9 platform from the Block 1 to Block 5 variant.
    • The Block 5 conversion will strengthen the 119th Wing’s mission by providing its aircraft with enhanced range and communications capabilities.
  • Expanding the Test Resource Management Center (TRMC) Sky Range hypersonic missile testing program to Hector Field.
    • Hoeven worked with TRMC Director George Rumford to identify the former 119th Wing operations center as the ideal location for the Sky Range data center.

“The 119th Wing is one of the most highly decorated Air Guard units in our nation, with an outstanding record of excellence as it provides critical support to military operations around the globe,” said Hoeven “That’s why we worked both to secure $17.5 million for this much-needed, state-of-the-art operations center and to move up the construction schedule, because the work of the 119th is too important to put on hold. At the same time, this move opened a new opportunity to expand Hector Field’s role in our nation’s defense, as we are able to utilize the former MQ-9 operations center for the Sky Range hypersonic missile testing program, an exciting new venture that leverages North Dakota’s expertise in unmanned aviation to ensure we can outpace the capabilities of our adversaries.”

Bringing Sky Range to Hector Field

Hoeven has been working with the TRMC Director to establish a data processing center to support the Sky Range program, which will replace the current ship-based method that the Department of Defense (DoD) uses to test hypersonic missiles. The current process is expensive, takes weeks to set up and signals the testing schedule to America’s adversaries. Sky Range will instead use modified unmanned aerial systems (UAS), including RQ-4 Global Hawks, that can deploy quickly and will increase testing capacity:

  • The UAS-based missile tests will be data-intensive and require a secure data processing center.
  • By utilizing an existing facility, which was already equipped to handle sensitive data, TRMC will save costs as well as between two to four years in standing up Sky Range.
  • Hoeven will work with TRMC to ensure the data processing center is ready to support Sky Range activities beginning in 2025.