Hoeven: Sky Range Hypersonic Missile Testing Program to Expand to Hector Field in Fargo
Senator Worked with TRMC Director to Identify Secure Location for Data Processing Center; Program to Utilize Existing NDNG 119th Wing MQ-9 Facility
FARGO, N.D. – Senator John Hoeven today hosted Test Resource Management Center (TRMC) Director George Rumford at the Autonomous Nation Conference to announce that the Sky Range hypersonic missile testing program will expand to Hector Field in Fargo:
- Hoeven has been working with Rumford to establish a data processing center to support the Sky Range program.
- Currently, the Department of Defense (DoD) uses an aging fleet of ships deployed across a Pacific Ocean corridor to test hypersonic missiles.
- The current process is expensive, takes weeks to set up and signals the testing schedule to America’s adversaries.
- Sky Range will replace the ships with modified unmanned aerial systems (UAS), including RQ-4 Global Hawks, that can deploy quickly and will increase testing capacity.
- The UAS-based missile tests will be data-intensive and require a secure data processing center.
- TRMC will utilize the North Dakota National Guard 119th Wing’s current MQ-9 Reaper operations center at Hector Field for the new Sky Range facility.
- In fall 2023, the 119th Wing will move to a new operations center, which was built using $17.5 million in fiscal year (FY) 2021 funding that Hoeven secured as a member of the Senate Military Construction Appropriations Committee.
- By utilizing an existing facility, which was already equipped to handle sensitive data, TRMC will save costs as well as between two to four years in standing up Sky Range.
- Hoeven will work with TRMC to ensure the data processing center is ready to support Sky Range activities beginning in 2025.
“Sky Range is a game-changer for our nation’s efforts to develop and test the next generation of hypersonic missiles, and North Dakota plays an ever-more central role in this critical aspect of our defense,” said Senator Hoeven. “Further, we can save Sky Range time and money, because we already have the perfect facility at Hector Field for this data processing center. Once the 119th Wing moves into their new $17.5 million operations center, we will have a vacant, secure facility that can be quickly adapted to Sky Range’s needs, in time for the program to start activities in 2025. That’s essential, as it will enable our nation to begin testing hypersonic missiles in a more flexible, cost-effective manner than our current ship-based approach, giving us a competitive edge over our adversaries.”
“To analyze the huge volume of test data collected by Sky Range, we need talented data scientists skilled on using artificial intelligence tools working in secure facilities. North Dakota – with universities and innovation centers in both Fargo and Grand Forks – has significant capabilities that can help us accelerate improving our national security,” said TRMC Director Rumford.
Standing up Sky Range
Last year, Hoeven and Rumford marked the arrival of all 20 Global Hawk Block 30 aircraft at Grand Sky for the TRMC’s Sky Range program. The transfer was possible due to an agreement that Hoeven secured with Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Brown. As a member of the Senate Defense Appropriations Committee, Hoeven:
- Secured language supporting the Sky Range program and pressing the Air Force to make the Block 30 fleet available to Sky Range.
- Hosted TRMC Director Rumford in North Dakota in 2021 to see firsthand the opportunities that Grand Sky offers the agency and the Sky Range program.
- Helped secure a contract for Northrop Grumman to also convert four Global Hawk Block 20s at Grand Sky into Range Hawks for use under the Sky Range program.
119th Wing Operations Center
In 2021, Hoeven hosted Director of the Air National Guard Lieutenant General Michael Loh in North Dakota to review the 119th Wing’s mission and outline the plans for the new operations center. The facility is needed to support new advanced technology and equipment that is critical to the mission’s long-term success, while also preventing interruptions for the wing’s operations.
At the same time, Hoeven is working to ensure a continued role in current and future Air Force operations for the MQ-9 Reaper. To this end, Hoeven has worked to bring upgrades to the platform, which are critical to the missions of the 119th Wing.
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