Hoeven Working to Expedite Replacement of Aging UH-1 Huey Helicopters and Hangars at Minot Air Force Base

WASHINGTON – During a hearing of Military Construction and Veterans Affairs committee meeting, Senator John Hoeven pressed Assistant Secretary of the Air Force Miranda Ballentine to accelerate plans to construct new facilities at Minot Air Force Base as the Air Force finalizes plans to upgrade its Vietnam-era UH-1N helicopter. 

“We need new helicopters at the Minot Air Force Base and we’re making real progress on getting Black Hawks to replace the decades-old Hueys,” Hoeven said. “So now we’re working on Military Construction because we need facilities to house those helicopters and we need to get going on that now.”

Hoeven called on the Air Force to use an existing Army contract to purchase Black Hawk helicopters that could be fielded by 2018 rather than the current plan that would not field a replacement helicopter before 2020 or 2021. The Air Force uses its UH-1N Huey fleet to provide security in the missile fields at Minot Air Force Base, Maelstrom Air Force Base in Montana and F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming.  U.S. Strategic Command has concluded that the Hueys cannot provide the level of security required and should be replaced as soon as possible.

Ballentine said if the early acquisition takes place, the Air Force will review its long-range construction schedule and also find some mitigation measures to accommodate the larger Black Hawks until new facilities can be built. Hoeven said we will know soon if the early acquisition will move forward and offered to work on the committee to push up the military construction timeline.