Hoeven Tours Minot Air Force Base Firing Range, Outlines Need for New Facility

Senator Secured $27 Million in FY18 Funding Legislation for New Firing Range, Bill Provides Strong Support for Nuclear Missions & Helicopter Upgrades

MINOT, N.D. – Senator John Hoeven today outlined the need for a new firing range at the Minot Air Force Base during a tour of the existing facility. The firing range does not meet Air Force training standards and poses increasing health and safety risks to airmen. A new range will allow the consolidation of four existing buildings while also reducing air quality concerns, providing higher quality training with lower maintenance costs and ensuring the range is available regardless of winter weather conditions. As a member of the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Committee, Hoeven secured $27 million for a new indoor firing range in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 funding legislation, as well as strong support for the base’s dual nuclear missions, including: 

  • $451 million for the Long Range Stand Off (LRSO) missile to replace the aging Air Launched Cruise Missile carried on the B-52.
  • $399 million to refurbish the W80-4 warhead for use on the nation’s new nuclear cruise missile.
  • $221 million for upgrades to the B-52.
  • $216 million to replace the Minuteman III Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM).
  • $109 million to replace the UH-1N Huey helicopters that provide security for the ICBM silos.

“Minot’s current firing range is exposed to the elements, has air quality issues and is unable to meet training demands,” said Hoeven. “That’s why we pressed the Air Force for a new range and secured this $27 million, which supports a fully enclosed firing range, allowing our airmen to complete their training and do so in safe conditions. Further, we worked hard to advance upgrades for the B-52, as well as replacements for the cruise missile, our fleet of ICBMs and the helicopters providing security to the silos. Minot plays an increasingly important role in deterring nuclear threats, and these investments support the vital missions of our servicemembers at the base.”

In addition, Hoeven’s efforts helped result in the administration requesting a new $66 million helicopter complex for the Minot Air Force Base as part of its Fiscal Year 2019 budget proposal. The project will include a new aircraft maintenance building, aircraft shelter facilities, an alert hangar and a helicopter operations facility. The existing facility is configured only to support the UH-N1 helicopter, and the aging buildings are not adequate for the replacement helicopter fleet.

This funding comes as part of Hoeven’s ongoing work to support North Dakota’s servicemembers and help them succeed in their missions. To this end, Hoeven hosted the Vice President and Air Force Secretary Wilson at Minot Air Force Base to review the dual-nuclear missions. Additionally, following invitations from Hoeven, both Secretary Wilson and Defense Secretary James Mattis visited the Minot Air Force Base to see the work of the base’s airmen firsthand as they work to ensure the nation has a credible nuclear force to deter aggression against the U.S. and counter rogue nations, like North Korea.