Hoeven Pushes Role for Grand Forks in Arctic Mission with New Commander of NORTHCOM

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven today spoke with U.S. Air Force (USAF) General Lori Robinson who is the leader of the North American Aerospace Defense Command and Commander, U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM), headquartered in Colorado. During their conversation, Hoeven highlighted the RQ-4 Global Hawk mission at Grand Forks Air Force Base and how it could contribute to NORTHCOM operations in the Arctic region. Hoeven invited the general to visit Grand Forks and see firsthand the unmanned aerial system (UAS) capabilities at the base.

“I spoke to Gen. Robinson about the dynamic role Grand Forks Air Force Base can play in NORTHCOM’s Arctic mission, specifically due to the Global Hawk’s tremendous capabilities to fly long distances and gather information over a broad area,” Hoeven said. “The Arctic is increasingly important to our nation’s security, and I believe the Global Hawk can help our military prepare to meet the objective of increasing our awareness of activity in this region.”

Gen. Robinson assumed command of NORTHCOM in May, replacing Admiral Bill Gortney who had been the senior leader of NORTHCOM since December 2014. Last week, Senator Hoeven met with USAF Chief of Staff nominee General David Goldfein and encouraged him to use Grand Forks Air Force Base and its capabilities as part of NORTHCOM’s Arctic activities.

Over the past couple of years, Hoeven has been working to secure an Arctic mission for Grand Forks Air Force Base. In 2014, the senator led a delegation from Grand Forks to NORTHCOM headquarters at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colo. He has met with Air Force and NORTHCOM officials – including Adm. Gortney and General Herbert J. “Hawk” Carlisle, Commander, Air Combat Command – to push for a role for Grand Forks Air Force Base in an Arctic mission.

Grand Forks Air Force Base is closer to some parts of the Arctic than even Alaska. Hoeven has made the case that, in addition to using the Global Hawk for surveillance, MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper pilots, for which there is currently a shortage, could train by flying Global Hawk missions in the Arctic. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Hoeven has worked to include funding for UAS development and the Global Hawk program.