Hoeven Works to Advance ICBM Priorities

Meets with 20th Air Command General, Introduces Nuclear Triad Amendments to Budget

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven this week worked to bolster the nuclear triad, a key piece of the nation’s defense. The senator met with Maj. Gen. Jack Weinstein for an update on the Air Force’s Nuclear Force Improvement Program (NFIP) and to advance priorities for the intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) force in Fiscal Year 2016. Hoeven also introduced two amendments to the Senate Budget in support of the NFIP and development of a nuclear-capable cruise missile.

“Maintaining and updating our nuclear forces is critical to keeping our nation safe and our defense strong,” said Hoeven. “The nuclear triad is a key part of our nation’s defense. We’re working to support our nuclear missions and to ensure we maintain and upgrade our nuclear capabilities and forces. It is critical that we continue to provide the personnel, resources, equipment and facilities necessary for effective nuclear deterrence.”

Maj. Gen. Weinstein

On Tuesday, Hoeven met with Weinstein, who currently serves as commander of the 20th Air Force, which organizes, trains and equips the Air Force’s nuclear ballistic missile forces, including the 91st Missile Wing at Minot Air Force Base. Weinstein was also recently nominated to become the Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategic Deterrence and Nuclear Integration at the Pentagon.

Hoeven stressed his support for the Nuclear Force Improvement Program (NFIP) and said he would work on the Appropriations Committee to ensure the nation continues to modernize and improve its nuclear capability.

The Air Force requested more than $130 million in funding for Fiscal Year 2016 for the NFIP. That funding includes resources to add 1,120 personnel to the Air Force’s Global Strike Command, 338 of which will be at Minot Air Force Base. The program also supports ICBM-related priorities, including refurbishing facilities and procuring support equipment and testing systems. That includes a plan underway to replace the small aging UH-1N helicopters the Air Force currently uses with new helicopters that can provide a greater level of security in the missile fields.

Nuclear Support in the Budget

On Wednesday, Hoeven introduced two amendments to the Senate’s Budget to build support for the nation’s nuclear triad.

The first Hoeven amendment ensures the budget supports the Air Force’s NFIP, including providing special pay rates and making improvements to nuclear mission-related equipment and facilities. Hoeven worked with Air Force officials to start the NFIP in 2014. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, the senator helped to provide $21 million in Fiscal Year 2015 to fund the program.

The second Hoeven amendment supports the development of a nuclear-capable cruise missile, including programs at the Defense Department and the National Nuclear Security Administration.  It provides flexibility in the budget to support the development of a new nuclear-capable cruise missile, including a new missile and a refurbished warhead. This amendment builds on the senator’s work in the Senate Appropriations Committee to include $9.4 million to begin developing an updated warhead for the air-launched cruise missile (ALCM). Hoeven worked with the committee to include this funding to extend the viability of the ALCM, which is the primary nuclear weapon carried on the B-52.

Hoeven is a member of the Senate ICBM Coalition and successfully included an amendment in the Fiscal Year 2015 defense appropriations bill to ensure Minot Air Force Base would retain all of its ICBM silos as the New START arms control treaty is implemented.