Hoeven Working to Expand Grand Forks Global Hawk Mission, Arctic Creates Opportunities for Base

Senator, BRIC Committee Meet with NORTHCOM Leadership at Peterson Air Force Base

GRAND FORKS, N.D. – Senator John Hoeven and members of the Grand Forks Base Realignment Impact Committee (BRIC) Wednesday met with top officials at Northern Command (NORTHCOM) headquarters at Peterson Air Force base in Colorado to discuss how the UAS mission at Grand Forks Air Force Base can play a role in NORTHCOM’s Arctic operations. NORTHCOM is the joint command responsible for all U.S. military missions in and around North America, including the Arctic region.

“This is yet another reason we’ve worked so hard to make the region a national hub for research, development, testing, operations and the commercialization of unmanned aerial technologies,” Hoeven said “The Arctic region is emerging as an important focus for the U.S. military. That means the Northern Command will need the right tools to secure America’s interests and national security in the region, including reconnaissance aircraft like the Global Hawks based at Grand Forks Air Force Base. I’m committed to working in the Senate to make sure the Air Force has those resources, and believe Grand Forks Air Force Base offers real advantages to serving in an Arctic mission.”

The Arctic is a vast region, and a number of world powers are expressing interest in it for commercial and military uses. It is increasingly important to the United States because of its significant energy and natural resources, as well as emerging opportunities for research. The senator and committee members were briefed on the current security environment in the Arctic and NORTHCOM’s plans for increased activity in the region, as well as on northern border security and U.S.-Canadian security cooperation.

Because Grand Forks is closer to some parts of the Arctic than even Alaska, the base is well positioned for a role in this new military undertaking, Hoeven said. Possible missions like this underscore why Hoeven fought to get and retain the Global Hawk mission in Grand Forks, to secure the region as one of the six national test sites for UAS integration and to help establish Grand Sky, the county’s new 217-acre technology park on the grounds of the Grand Forks Air Force Base.

Grand Sky, with its maintenance facilities and other UAS infrastructure, could eventually provide an ideal way to support Arctic deployments. Similarly, the University of North Dakota’s new Aerospace and UAS Research, Training and Education Building could also strengthen North Dakota’s position for Arctic missions.  

Wednesday’s meeting was prompted by an updated Arctic strategy report the Department of Defense (DOD) released last year in response to changes in the landscape that are providing greater access to the region for a range of uses. These include energy development, fishing, shipping, tourism and other activities.

Representing NORTHCOM were Maj. Gen. Charles D. Luckey, Chief of Staff, North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command; Maj. Gen. John F. Newell III, Director of Strategy, Policy & Plans (J5), North American Aerospace Defense Command; and Col. Thomas K. Hensley, Deputy Director of Intelligence, North American Aerospace Defense Command.