Hoeven Outlines Vital Role of North Dakota Air Force Missions with Secretary Wilson

Senator Helped Secure Priorities for the State’s Air Bases in FY2018 NDAA

WASHINGTON – At a meeting of the bipartisan Air Force Caucus today, Senator John Hoeven outlined the vital role of North Dakota’s air bases in the nation’s overall defense with Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson and Vice Chief of Staff General Stephen Wilson. The caucus held the meeting to review the Air Force’s budget for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 and the service’s priorities in facing modern threats. Hoeven co-chairs the caucus and also serves on the Senate Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Committee, where he is advancing the missions in the state and ensuring North Dakota servicemembers have the tools they need to succeed.

“North Dakota’s Air Force members serve in key missions, defending us against the most pressing threats of our day,” Hoeven said. “With two legs of our nuclear deterrent in Minot and Grand Forks as a hub of UAS research, training and operations, we have critical aspects of our nation’s defense strategy covered. Our meeting with Secretary Wilson was an opportunity to keep these missions at the forefront of her attention as we look to the future of the Air Force.”   

Hoeven highlighted for Air Force leaders the need to ensure funding for nuclear bomber and missile missions at Minot Air Force Base. He also underscored the ability of Grand Forks Air Force Base and the Grand Sky Technology Park to train unmanned aircraft pilots and relieve the nation-wide shortage of pilots that threatens Air Force readiness. As part of these ongoing efforts, Hoeven helped secure the following provisions in the Senate’s recently-passed FY18 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA):

  • A Hoeven-sponsored amendment allowing the National Guard to send unmanned aircraft pilots for the MQ-9 Reaper to a civilian contractor, like General Atomics at the Grand Sky Technology Park, to assist the Air Force with training.
  • Nearly $300 million authorized for the Global Hawk, including the RQ-4 Global Hawk program at Grand Forks Air Force Base. The aircraft is manufactured by Northrop Grumman, which recently opened its UAS research and training facility at Grand Sky and was brought in by Hoeven to serve as the park’s anchor tenant.
  • $617 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.
  • $221.4 million authorized 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.
  • $108.6 million authorized 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.

In addition, following invitations from Hoeven, both Secretary Wilson and Defense Secretary James Mattis visited the Minot Air Force Base last month. The senator stressed the importance of these officials seeing 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. Hoeven built on these visits by calling upon General Robin Rand, the Commander of Air Force Global Strike Command, to support the nuclear missions at the base.