Senators Pushing For Arctic Mission For Grand Forks Air Force Base

North Dakota Sens. John Hoeven and Heidi Heitkamp are pushing federal officials to consider Grand Forks Air Force Base for a unmanned aircraft mission focused in the Arctic.

U.S. Sen. John Hoeven
U.S. Sen. John Hoeven
U.S. Sen Heidi Heitkamp
U.S. Sen Heidi Heitkamp

Both senators have invited Gen. Lori Robinson, who oversees the U.S. Northern Command and the North American Aerospace Defense Command, to visit the base and see its potential for Arctic missions.

“Gen. Robinson will hopefully visit Grand Forks to see for herself what we’ve built so far in terms of one-of-a-kind public-private partnerships and better understand the great potential Grand Forks offers as the U.S. and Canadian militaries pivot to the Arctic to defend our national security interests,” Heitkamp said in a statement Thursday, referring in part to Grand Sky aviation business park currently under construction at the base.

Hoeven also has spoken with Robinson, noting last week he also has met with other officials, including U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff nominee General David Goldfein to emphasize the role North Dakota could play in national defense.

“The Arctic is increasingly important to our nation’s security, and I believe the Global Hawk can help our military prepare to meet the objective of increasing our awareness of activity in this region,” Hoeven said in a June 17 statement.

Grand Forks Air Force Base is already home to three large unmanned aircraft models that are used for surveillance missions. Both senators have noted the base is closer to parts of the Arctic than Alaska, emphasizing its strategic location for deploying unmanned aircraft.