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Hoeven: N.D. to benefit from new defense bill

Funding for Global Hawk unmanned aircraft at Grand Forks Air Force Base and for missions at two other North Dakota air bases were passed by the U.S. Senate Wednesday, according to Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed its version of the fiscal year 2013 Defense Authorization bill late last week, and it now goes to President Obama to be signed into law.

The bill provides a total of $488.5 million for Global Hawks, which will strengthen Grand Forks' unmanned aircraft mission, Hoeven's office said.

A separate appropriations bill also instructs the Air Force to use prior-year funding to buy Global Hawks, which will replace the aging U-2 spy plane.

In Fargo, the Air National Guard's 119th Wing should benefit from some of the $40 million allocated to the Predator unmanned aircraft mission and full funding for C-21 jets already based there, Hoeven's office said.

In addition, the senator said in a news release that he will continue to push the Air Force to deliver three C-27J cargo aircraft to the 119th, which is in line to receive the aircraft. He said he favors C-27Js, which are smaller, more flexible aircraft than C-130s, and also newer and less expensive to operate.

Minot Air Force Base should benefit from some of the $156 million allocated to nuclear missile-relate procurement, $280 million allocated to missile-related research and $63 million allocated to B-52 bombers, Hoeven's office said.

The funding is part of Hoeven's amendment to support and modernize all three legs of the U.S. nuclear triad.