Senators John Hoeven and Heidi Heitkamp and Congressman Kevin Cramer yesterday met with representatives from both the Grand Forks Base Realignment Impact Committee (BRIC) and Minot's Task Force 21. The delegation is working on issues important to the bases, including support for the missions and infrastructure at each installation. Following the meeting, the Grand Forks BRIC traveled to the Pentagon to meet with Kathleen Ferguson, the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Installations, Environment and Logistics.
"The Air Force Bases in North Dakota are not only of great strategic value, but are also economic drivers, bringing opportunities for both the private and public sectors" Hoeven said. "We will continue to work with our colleagues in Congress to ensure that our servicemen and women have the support they need to fulfill their missions and help keep our nation secure."
"With top-notch infrastructure, unwavering community support of its servicemembers and its contributions to our national security, Grand Forks is an ideal beddown site for the KC-46A tanker. I am working tirelessly to ensure that Air Force leadership understands this. In addition to the potential KC-46A mission, Grand Forks is already at the forefront of our nation's UAS effort with its Global Hawk mission. I look forward to supporting the Grand Forks community in its efforts to lead the nation in the development of UAS technology, an initiative which has limitless potential for private-sector economic growth for this region," said Heitkamp. "I had a great discussion with the leaders of Minot's Task Force 21 committee today about the importance our nuclear deterrence provides to national security and global stability. The ICBMs and B-52's from Minot play a critical role in that mission, and I will continue to seek every opportunity to make infrastructure, maintenance and personnel investments that protect that effort a priority."
"Grand Forks is an opportune location to obtain a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Unmanned Aircraft Systems test site. North Dakota's minimal air traffic congestion, excellent infrastructure and pioneering research universities position North Dakota well to be chosen as a test site. I look forward to continue working with the North Dakota Airspace Integration Team, the FAA and other stakeholders to make this opportunity possible for North Dakota," Cramer said. "The meeting today with Minot's Task Force 21 was significant in outlining the importance of nuclear deterrence, as well as our country's nuclear arsenal. By housing two of the three legs of the nuclear triad, the Minot Air Force Base has a unique honor in protecting our nation. I will continue to work, in a bipartisan effort, to make sure our country is safely defended."
Grand Forks Air Force Base
The U.S. Air Force recently selected Grand Forks Air Force Base as one of four finalists on the active duty base list to receive the KC-46A aerial refueling tanker mission. This announcement came after meetings the delegation held with Air Force officials to push for the selection, which emphasized Grand Forks Air Force Base's outstanding infrastructure and previous experience with the KC-135 refueling tanker.
Senator Hoeven has also been working to secure Northrop Grumman as an anchor tenant for the proposed EUL agreement between Grand Forks County and the U.S. Air Force. The proposed EUL will allow Northrop Grumman along with the University of North Dakota (UND), Northland Community and Technical College (NCTC) and other companies to grow the UAS industry in NE North Dakota.
In addition to working with the delegation on the KC-46A and EUL initiatives, Senator Heitkamp is actively defending other key aspects of the overall Grand Forks mission, such as the Global Hawk program. The Global Hawk helps protect our warfighters by providing them the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance advantages they need. She continues to speak with key Air Force leaders about the importance of continued investments in Global Hawk.
Minot Air Force Base
Minot Air Force Base is home to both ICBM and B-52 missions and serves as the nation's only dual nuclear mission base. As a member of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Hoeven helped to secure funding for new infrastructure projects on the base and continues to support the ICBM and B-52 missions and related equipment and personnel. The senator also worked to support maintenance projects to strengthen the fleet and upgrade the nuclear force at the base.
"We want to express our gratitude to both the Grand Forks BRIC and Minot's Task Force 21," the delegation said. "Their work to support our military has resulted in a real impact for the bases they represent, the surrounding communities and the state of North Dakota."