Hoeven: U.S. Must Maintain Best ISR & Nuclear Capabilities in the World to Counter Adversaries

Senator Working to Enhance and Modernize Missions in Minot and Grand Forks

WASHINGTON – At a hearing of the Senate Defense Appropriations Committee this week, Senator John Hoeven pressed Air Force and Space Force leaders to ensure the U.S. maintains its advantages in intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) and nuclear capabilities to counter its adversaries in any future conflict. Hoeven pointed to investments being made by Russia and China in their nuclear and surveillance forces, contrasted by the U.S. drawing down its ISR fleet, including the Global Hawk. The senator outlined to Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Allvin and Chief of Space Operations Gen. B. Chance Saltzman concerns that failing to move quickly would mean losing existing capabilities before modernized forces and equipment become available. Accordingly, Hoeven is working to:

  • Secure the future of ISR missions, like those led by the Grand Forks Air Force Base.
    • As part of annual defense funding and authorization bills, Hoeven has repeatedly passed a prohibition on retiring the Global Hawk fleet and worked to ensure full funding for the mission.
    • The senator secured a commitment from Secretary Kendall to work with him and his colleagues on the Senate Defense Appropriations Committee to prevent a gap in U.S. ISR capabilities.
  • Keep the modernization of U.S. nuclear forces on schedule, including the dual-nuclear missions in Minot.
    • In particular, Hoeven pressed Gen. Allvin to ensure Minot has the facilities needed, including a weapons generation facility, to support the modernized intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), bombers and cruise missiles when they become available.

“It is vitally important that the U.S. be able to counter our increasingly aggressive adversaries, which includes getting better ISR and strengthening nuclear deterrence. We must combine enhanced space operations with accelerated development of airborne ISR to prevent any gaps that would limit the effectiveness of our warfighters,” said Hoeven. “That’s why we’re working to maintain the existing ISR missions at Grand Forks, while also laying the groundwork for future ISR missions at the base. At the same, we are working to keep the modernization of our nuclear forces on schedule, including not only getting new weapons systems but the facilities required to operate and maintain those systems. We will continue pressing Air Force leaders for a plan to ensure these facilities are built in a timely way.”

Hoeven continues his efforts to advance the modernization of the nation’s nuclear forces, having secured full funding in fiscal year (FY) 2024 for:

  • The Sentinel ICBM.
  • Updating the B-52 bomber, including with new engines.
  • The Long-Range Standoff Weapon (LRSO), which will be carried on the B-52.
  • Warheads for the new ICBM and LRSO.
  • The continued procurement of the MH-139 Grey Wolf helicopters to replace the Huey.