Hoeven Urges Support for Defense Priorities in North Dakota in Meeting with USAF Chief of Staff Nominee

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven today met with U.S. Air Force (USAF) General David Goldfein, who has been nominated to become the Chief of Staff of the USAF, to discuss Air Force priorities in North Dakota. These include developing unmanned aerial systems (UAS), including a new UAS wing at Grand Forks Air Force Base, and modernizing the nation’s nuclear deterrent at Minot Air Force Base, which is the only base in the U.S. with two legs of the Nuclear Triad.

“Our Air Force plays a critical role in keeping our nation safe, and it relies on missions and installations in North Dakota to do so,” Hoeven said. “I emphasized to Gen. Goldfein the importance of investing in our nuclear deterrent, including the missiles and bombers in Minot. I also highlighted the importance of maintaining the Air Force’s technological edge not only by expanding the missions for the Global Hawk and the Reaper in Grand Forks and Fargo, but also through the intelligence targeting mission in Fargo and the radar system at Cavalier Air Force Station. North Dakota has a strong partnership with the Air Force, and I look forward to continuing that partnership with Gen. Goldfein.”

During the meeting, Hoeven and Gen. Goldfein discussed a range of USAF priorities on North Dakota’s bases.

Minot Air Force Base

As a member of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee, Hoeven has been working to improve weapons and facilities at Minot.

  • Replacement of Aging of UH-1N helicopters: Hoeven last month worked as a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee to include $75 million in the Fiscal Year 2017 Defense Appropriations bill to replace aging Huey helicopters used to secure the missile fields, including Minot Air Force Base. Today he urged General Goldfein to expedite the acquisition process.
  • Nuclear Force Improvement Program (NFIP): The senator highlighted for the general the success of the NFIP at the Minot Air Force Base, which is working to upgrade outdated equipment, modernize aging facilities and increase the number of personnel assigned to the nuclear mission as well as improve those individuals’ career paths. Minot Air Force Base hosts both Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and B-52 nuclear bombers, which makes it the only location in the country to host two legs of the U.S. nuclear triad, which also includes submarine launched ballistic missiles.
  • Ground Based Strategic Deterrent program: Hoeven also emphasized the importance of the Air Force’s GBSD program, which will develop the replacement for the Minuteman III, and the Long Range Stand Off weapon, which will upgrade the nuclear cruise missile carried on the B-52. Hoeven worked to provide full funding for these programs in the Defense appropriations bill approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee last month.

Grand Forks Air Force Base

  • Making the Case for a New UAS Wing in Grand Forks: The Air Force is evaluating potential bases to host both missions and is expected to identify finalists in the next several weeks. Hoeven met with Air Force Assistant Secretary Ballentine in April to offer his support for Grand Forks to receive these missions.
  • Arctic Mission: Hoeven highlighted the growing missions at Grand Forks Air Force Base with Gen. Goldfein and encouraged him to use the RQ-4 Global Hawk, which is based in Grand Forks, to support missions in the Arctic region.
  • UAS Pilot Training: Hoeven also urged Gen. Goldfein to use the training academies at Grand Sky Technology Park, adjacent to Grand Forks Air Force Base, to train pilots for the Global Hawk as well as the MQ-9 Reaper. Hoeven played a key role in bringing Northrop Grumman and General Atomics to Grand Sky to establish these training facilities.

Air National Guard Missions in Fargo

Hoeven also stressed the importance of the missions being performed by the Air National Guard in Fargo.

  • UAS Mission: the 119th wing is moving from MQ-1 Predator to MQ-9 Reaper operations.
  • New N.D. National Guard Intelligence Targeting Mission: Hoeven worked to include $7.3 million for a new secure facility to support the North Dakota Air National Guard’s Intelligence Targeting Mission at Hector Field.

Gen. Goldfein is currently USAF Vice Chief of Staff. He will replace Air Force Chief of Staff General Mark Welsh, with whom the senator has had a strong working relationship.