Omnibus Appropriations Bill Includes North Dakota Priorities for Global Hawk, Missile Silos

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven today announced that the Fiscal Year 2014 omnibus bill includes provisions to maintain Global Hawk and missile silos, two important North Dakota priorities.

“North Dakota’s two air bases have long served an important role defending our nation’s security, and maintaining the strength of these bases remains a top priority,” said Hoeven. “The bipartisan omnibus bill includes important provisions that will help maintain the important work taking place in Grand Forks and Minot.”

The omnibus includes language authored by Hoeven that funds the entire Air Force Global Hawk fleet through Fiscal Year 2014. Senator Hoeven pressed for language that ensures both the Global Hawk Block 30 and Block 40 fleets be retained after budget pressures led to rumors that these aircraft could be eliminated later this year. The omnibus language specifies that no Global Hawk aircraft may be retired or divested from the Air Force inventory.

“The Global Hawk is cost effective and provides capabilities that the Air Force cannot duplicate elsewhere,” Hoeven said. “The Global Hawk provides invaluable information and service to the Department and Defense, and the preservation of the fleet is important both for our national security and the continued mission of the Grand Forks Air Force Base.”

The new omnibus also includes a Hoeven sponsored amendment that ensures the Air Force will retain all of its 450 Minuteman III silos, 150 of which are at Minot Air Force Base. Hoeven offered this amendment last year when the Appropriations Committee drafted its Fiscal Year 2014 defense appropriations bill in response to an administration request to begin the process of closing up to 150 silos. The provision, as retained in the omnibus, denies the Department of Defense any funds to start making such reductions.

Hoeven has emphasized the need to keep silos functional as an important way to contribute to America’s nuclear deterrent. The senator has noted that retaining operational silos helps to keep potential adversaries uncertain about which silos hold missiles, increases the readiness level of the missile force and discourages nations, like Iran, with nuclear ambitions from pursuing weapons in the face of overwhelming nuclear superiority.

Senator Hoeven serves as a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee.