Hoeven Outlines Support for Grand Forks AFB in Meeting with 319th Air Base Commander

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven today met with Colonel Benjamin W. Spencer, Commander of the 319th Air Base Wing of Grand Forks Air Force Base (GFAFB) to review base operations and outline the senator’s work to support the base’s missions, including support for the base’s RQ-4 Global Hawk intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions as well as the newly renovated building for Customs and Border Patrol operations on base. Hoeven has also been working to secure a mission for Grand Forks in the Arctic. 

“Colonel Spencer and I had a good meeting to review operations on the base,” said Hoeven. “We discussed the importance of CBP’s new facility on base and growing that mission. We also discussed the need to support and strengthen the Global Hawk mission. The men and women in blue at Grand Forks Air Force Base provide integral intelligence and surveillance as part of that mission and we’re working to ensure they have the support they need to conduct this vital mission.”

Customs and Border Protection Mission on Base

Hoeven and Colonel Spencer discussed Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) lease of a newly renovated facility on Grand Forks Air Force Base, and the importance of growing that mission. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Hoeven secured $8 million in Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 funding for the facility to ensure that CBP continued conducting its UAS operations and training out of Grand Forks.

Global Hawk Authorization and Funding 

Earlier this month, Hoeven worked to secure support for North Dakota defense missions in the National Defense Authorization Act. The legislation, which was approved by the Senate, authorizes nearly $300 million for the Global Hawk, including the RQ-4 Global Hawk program at Grand Forks Air Force Base. 

As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Hoeven also worked to support priorities for the air base in the Fiscal Year 2017 funding agreement earlier this year, including:

  • Language prohibiting any retirement or divestment of aircraft from the Air Force’s fleet of RQ-4 Global Hawks.
  • $15 million to standardize CBP’s Predator fleet, part of which is flown out of GFAFB, to reduce long-term operating costs.
  • $7.3 million to continue investments in UAS infrastructure, such as the DASR-11 digital radar system, which was vital to the FAA’s approval of beyond-line-of-sight operations for the Northern Plains UAS test site.

Arctic Mission

In August, Hoeven hosted U.S. Air Force (USAF) General Lori Robinson, leader of the North American Aerospace Defense Command and Commander, U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM), for a meeting and tour at the Grand Forks Air Force Base and Grand Sky Technology Park. Hoeven has worked in recent years to secure an Arctic mission for Grand Forks. The senator led a delegation to NORTHCOM headquarters in 2014 and invited Gen. Robinson to the state last year. The senator continues to highlight how the base is well-positioned to support NORTHCOM’s efforts to strengthen security in the Arctic region.