Hoeven Outlines ND Defense Priorities to Air Force Secretary

Senator Presses Administration to Fully Fund Nuclear Modernizations, Global Hawk and MQ-9 Reaper in Fiscal Year 2022 Budget Request

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven, a member of the Senate Defense Appropriations Committee, spoke with Acting Air Force Secretary John Roth to advocate for North Dakota defense priorities. The senator outlined the importance of fully funding nuclear modernization efforts, the Global Hawk fleet and MQ-9 procurement in the administration’s Fiscal Year 2022 budget request.

“North Dakota plays a tremendous role in our nation’s defense,” said Hoeven. “We’ve worked hard to update and modernize our nation’s defense over the past several years, and we need to keep these efforts on track. We outlined the work being done at Minot Air Force Base, the only dual nuclear base in the nation, and made the case for fully funding nuclear modernization efforts to ensure they stay on schedule. At the same time, we highlighted the role of the Grand Forks Air Force Base in providing intelligence and surveillance as well as our National Guard’s Reaper mission and advocated for full funding of the Global Hawk and MQ-9.”  

Nuclear Modernization at Minot Air Force Base

The senator urged the administration to fully fund nuclear modernization efforts in the President’s budget request, including:

  • Upgrades to the B-52, including the new engine program.
  • The new Long Range Stand Off (LRSO) missile to replace the Air Launched Cruise Missile (ALCM) carried on the B-52.
  • The new Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD), which will replace the Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).
  • replacement helicopter for the aging UH-1 helicopters that provide security for the ICBM silos.

From his position on the Senate Defense Appropriations Committee, Hoeven worked to secure more than $2.3 billion to keep nuclear modernization efforts on schedule in Fiscal Year 2021.

Grand Forks Air Force Base Global Hawk Mission

Hoeven pressed for full funding of the Global Hawk Block 30 and Block 40, and outlined Grand Forks Air Force Base role as the lead for all U.S. Air Force Global Hawk operations and the 319th Reconnaissance Wing (RW) at the core of its intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions. The senator also worked to prevent the retirement of the RQ-4 Global Hawk in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 Defense Appropriations legislation and National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). 

North Dakota Guard MQ-9 Reaper Mission

The senator outlined opportunities to support the North Dakota National Guard’s MQ-9 Reaper mission, and pressed for strong support for MQ-9 procurement in the budget. As a member of the Defense Appropriations Committee, Hoeven included $108 million for the purchase of additional MQ-9 aircraft in the FY2021 funding legislation to help maintain the production line and support the Reaper mission over the long-term.

Additionally, Hoeven highlighted several initiatives where North Dakota can partner with the Air Force, including:

  • Addressing the pilot shortage through the University of North Dakota’s Aerospace School.
  • Supporting the Agility Prime initiative to work with the private sector on advanced air mobility technologies.
  • Advancing over the horizon radar technology that improve the Air Force’s ability to track threats coming over the North Pole.