Hoeven Stresses Importance of Nuclear Missions, Outlines Efforts to Modernize Forces During Defense Secretary Visit to Minot

Senator Invited Esper to North Dakota during Confirmation Process, Funded Upgrades for B-52s, Cruise Missiles, ICBMs and Helicopters for MAFB

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven, a member of the Senate Defense Appropriations Committee, today joined U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper for a tour of the Minot Air Force Base (MAFB), where they reviewed the base’s missions and addressed servicemembers stationed in the region. The senator invited Esper to visit the state during the secretary’s confirmation process last year, part of his work to secure strong support for North Dakota’s missions. To this end, Hoeven highlighted the central role of the base in the nation’s defense, as it is home to two legs of the nuclear triad. 

Further, Hoeven leveraged the visit to help advance the modernization of the country’s nuclear forces. The senator stressed the importance of these upgrades, including for the B-52s, cruise missiles and Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) housed at Minot, in order to maintain a credible deterrent and counter aggression around the world. Through his role on the Senate Defense Appropriations Committee, Hoeven has secured funding through annual appropriations bills to keep these upgrades on track.

“We appreciate Secretary Esper’s willingness to come meet with our servicemembers and see their good work firsthand, not only because we’re so proud of their service, but also because of how critical it is to the security of our nation,” Hoeven said. “That understanding will be important as we continue working with the Defense Secretary to keep our nuclear modernization programs on schedule. Our adversaries are always working to overcome our capabilities, and by making these upgrades, we can ensure our nuclear deterrent is credible for decades to come. That’s a key investment in our ongoing security and gives our servicemembers the support they need to be successful.”

Specifically, Hoeven helped ensure that the Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 appropriations legislation passed by Congress in December fully funded the following efforts to keep the nuclear modernization programs on, or ahead of, schedule:

  • Upgrades to the B-52, including the procurement of new engines.
  • The Long Range Stand Off (LRSO) missile to replace the aging Air Launched Cruise Missile carried on the B-52.
  • The Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) to replace the Minuteman III.
  • The replacement for the UH-1N Huey helicopters used to provide security for the Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) silos.
  • Additional funding for a new helicopter facility in Minot.