Hoeven Statement on Air Force Secretary Nominee Deborah Lee James

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven today issued the following statement following a meeting with secretary of the Air Force nominee Deborah Lee James:

“Deborah Lee James would bring 30 years of Pentagon and congressional, as well as private-sector experience, to the office of the Secretary of the Air Force.

“During our conversation, I expressed my strong support for the Air Force and the important work it does to protect our nation. We discussed the need to upgrade and maintain our nuclear deterrent, and especially the nuclear triad of missiles, submarines and bombers that have secured our country for decades, as well as my support for a robust unmanned aerial systems (UAS) program, given its growing importance in the nation’s defenses and military operations.

“The Minot Air Force Base, which hosts two legs of the nuclear triad – missiles and bombers – plays a key role in the nation’s core defenses, and we need the resources to support it. Another topic was the success of the Grand Forks Air Force Base’s transition to its unmanned aerial systems (UAS) mission, and our work to build the premier northern hub for UAS technology in the region.

“We’ve established a Center of Excellence in Grand Forks partnering the University of North Dakota (UND), the air base and private sector companies doing cutting edge work with remotely piloted aircraft. Last year, we worked with Northrop Grumman to meet with local leaders, and this spring, the company signed a strategic alliance agreement between the aerospace giant and the Grand Forks Base Realignment Impact Committee, UND, the UND Aerospace Foundation and the Northland Aerospace Foundation.

“I also back-grounded Ms. James on the work we did to pass legislation that would create six UAS pilot test sites across the nation designed to integrate remotely piloted aircraft into concurrent air space. The Grand Forks Air Force Base is in a strong competitive position to secure selection as one of the new test sites, as well as to secure a tanker mission.

“Throughout, we discussed the importance of strong support for the missions in Grand Forks, Minot, and also for the North Dakota Air National Guard’s 119th Wing in Fargo, which is tasked with a Predator intelligence targeting mission.

“Finally, Ms. James accepted my invitation to visit North Dakota, if she is confirmed, to see for herself the outstanding work our bases are doing to help defend our nation and to illustrate the enormous potential they hold for future missions.”