Hoeven: Sky Range is a Game-Changer for Hypersonic Missile Testing, Builds Upon Partnerships We've Brought to the Grand Forks Region

Senator Marks Arrival of All 20 Global Hawk Block 30s to Grand Sky

GRAND FORKS, N.D. – Senator John Hoeven today hosted Test Resource Management Center (TRMC) Director George Rumford in Grand Forks to mark the arrival of all 20 Global Hawk Block 30 aircraft at Grand Sky for the Sky Range program. The senator stressed the importance of the hypersonic missile program in ensuring the nation can continue to effectively counter its adversaries and outlined how the Sky Range program is a game-changer in these efforts:

  • Currently, the Department of Defense (DoD) uses an aging fleet of ships deployed across a Pacific Ocean corridor to test hypersonic missiles. However:
    • DoD is only able to conduct four to six tests per year, as it takes several weeks to deploy and position the ships for each test.
    • Operating the ships is expensive, and this process signals the testing schedule to America’s adversaries.
  • Sky Range would replace the ships with modified Global Hawks.
    • The newly-developed Range Hawks would be able to deploy quickly, more frequently and at a lower cost.
    • The aircraft will increase testing capacity through the creation of additional testing corridors in the Pacific and elsewhere.  

Sky Range builds upon the convergence that Hoeven has worked to establish between federal, state, military, private and academic partners in the region, strengthening both national defense and the local economy. This includes the Space Development Agency’s low-Earth orbit satellite missions, the tenants of Grand Sky; the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) mission and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) unmanned aerial systems (UAS) operations at the Grand Forks Air Force Base; and the Northern Plains UAS Test Site.

“With the arrival of these Global Hawk Block 30s, the Sky Range program is moving full steam ahead to transform the way our nation tests hypersonic missiles,” said Hoeven. “This is critical to the future security of our country, and Grand Forks is at the center of this effort due to the unmatched UAS ecosystem that we’ve built and the partnerships that we’ve established in this region. These put us in a strong position as we made the case to DoD for bringing the Global Hawk fleet to Grand Sky for Sky Range, and we appreciate the hard work of Director Rumford in making this program a reality.”

Establishing Sky Range in North Dakota

Today’s milestone follows Hoeven’s efforts with TRMC, which oversees the infrastructure needed to test U.S. weapons systems, to advance the Sky Range program and base it in North Dakota. The transfer was possible due to an agreement that Hoeven secured with Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Brown, which also ensured the Air Force makes additional investments in Grand Forks to support future missions. 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 George Rumford in North Dakota last year to see firsthand the opportunities that Grand Sky offers the agency and the Sky Range program.
  • Helped secure a contract for Northrop Grumman to convert four Global Hawk Block 20s at Grand Sky into Range Hawks for use under the Sky Range program.