Hoeven: Senate Passes FY 2018 Defense Authorization, Legislation Goes to President for Signature

Defense Bill Includes Hoeven UAS Pilot Training Amendment, Supports North Dakota Missions & Troops

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven today issued the following statement after the U.S. Senate passed the Fiscal Year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The legislation, which authorizes the nation’s defense programs, strongly supports North Dakota’s missions, helps modernize the nation’s nuclear deterrent and improves pay and benefits for the troops, including authorizing health care benefits for Guard members deployed on pre-planned missions. Further, it includes a Hoeven-sponsored amendment that ensures National Guard unmanned aircraft pilots receive timely training by leveraging the expertise of civilian contractors, like General Atomics, which has an unmanned aerial systems (UAS) training facility at Grand Sky Technology Park. The bill has now been passed by both the House and Senate and will go to the president for his signature.

“North Dakota’s servicemembers fill vital roles in our nation’s defense strategy, from our nuclear deterrent to UAS intelligence and targeting,” said Hoeven. “We worked hard to ensure the NDAA provides the pay and benefits our men and women in uniform deserve, while also supporting their good work by delivering the funding and tools they need to succeed in their missions. This includes ensuring the Air National Guard has the UAS pilots it needs by opening more training options through academies like those at Grand Sky.”

Hoeven UAS Pilot Training Amendment

Specifically, the Hoeven amendment authorizes the National Guard to send unmanned aircraft pilots to a civilian contractor for training if the Air Force lacks the capacity to train pilots in a timely fashion. For many years, the Air Force has struggled to train enough pilots to fly the Predator and Reaper, and the Air National Guard has often seen delays in getting its pilots fully trained for these platforms. Hoeven’s amendment ensures that pilots are able to train using UAS training academies, like those at Grand Sky Technology Park, adjacent to Grand Forks Air Force Base. Hoeven played a key role in bringing Northrop Grumman and General Atomics to Grand Sky to establish these training facilities.

Support for North Dakota Missions

  • Authorizes nearly $300 million for the Global Hawk, including the RQ-4 Global Hawk program at Grand Forks Air Force Base.
  • $108.6 million in authorized funding 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.
  • $586 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.
  • Authorizes $221.4 million 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.

Support for the Troops

  • Authorizes a 2.4 percent across-the-board pay raise for members of the uniformed services. 
  • Authorizes health care benefits for members of the National Guard who are deployed for pre-planned operations. This will help members of the North Dakota Guard who deploy to Washington, DC as part of Operation Noble Eagle.  Hoeven has sponsored legislation that addresses these benefits.