Hector International Airport / Fargo Municipal Airport
The 119th Fighter Wing, North Dakota Air National Guard (NDANG), is headquartered at Hector IAP in Fargo, N.D. on the north and west sides of the Fargo Municipal Airport. Its mission is to protect the air sovereignty of North America. The unit is equipped with the F-16 A/B Air Defense Fighter, and is tasked to mobilize, generate, deploy, and execute wartime missions under the direction of the North American Aerospace Defense Command. In peacetime, the Wing maintains continuous five minute alert through Langley Air Force Base, Virginia, and provides disaster relief, civic assistance, and other state missions directed by the Governor of North Dakota. Hector IAP contains 45 facilities within its 243 acre area. The normal base population is 331 personnel; however, twice a month during drills the population surges to 1063.
On September 9, 1927, Martin Hector leased a quarter-section of land at the northwest corner of Fargo to the city for five years at $1 per year. On April 9, 1931, Hector paved the way for Fargo's airport with his outright gift of the land. In later years Hector and his daughter-in-law, Mrs. Fred M. (Margaret) Hector, donated several additional parcels totaling nearly 50 acres that were incorporated into the present airport property, along with acreage purchased from a number of adjacent landowners. It was February 3, 1931, when Northwest Airways began its first passenger service to Fargo. A "giant" six passenger Hamilton Metalplane settled down on the new Fargo Airport to inaugurate air service from Minneapolis to Grand Forks and then on to Winnipeg. The commemorative envelope is shown below right. On May 27, 1931, Fargo's Municipal Airport, Hector Field, was dedicated
In 1953, a new terminal and administration building was built at a cost of $400,000. When the city built a new terminal building in 1986, this building became an aviation office complex. FAA staff and airport ancillary services have office space inside. The Civil Air Patrol Headquarters are also found here.
The present terminal was built in 1986. With its construction, the terminal facility moved from the southeast corner of the airport grounds to the northwest area. In 1982, Hector Field became Hector International Airport after the U. S. Customs opened an office on the field.
Secretary of Defense Recommendations: In its 2005 BRAC Recommendations, DoD recommended to realign Hector International Airport Air Guard Station, ND. The 119th Fighter Wing's F-16s (15 aircraft) would retire. The wing's expeditionary combat support elements would remain in place. Hector (125) ranked low in military value.
In another recommendations, DoD recommended to close 96th RRC David Johnson USARC in Fargo, ND and relocate into a new Reserve Center on Hector Field Air National Guard Base.
Secretary of Defense Justification: Hector (125) ranked low in military value. The reduction in F-16 force structure and the need to align common versions of the F-16 at the same bases argued for realigning Hector to allow its aircraft to retire without a flying mission backfill. The total estimated one-time cost to the Department of Defense to implement this recommendation would be $1.8M. The net of all costs and savings to the Department during the implementation period would be a savings of $3.3M. Annual recurring savings to the Department after implementation would be $1.0M with a payback expected in two years. The net present value of the costs and savings to the Department over 20 years would be a savings of $12.9M.
Community Concerns: The North Dakota community welcome the planned Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) association with Grand Forks AFB, though it argued that the DoD recommendation language calling for the retirement of the unit's F-16s "without a flying mission backfill" unfairly and unreasonably restricts future missions at Hector. The community argued that the Governor and Adjutant General were not consulted on the recommendation, and that the F-16 retirements were actions already programmed by the Air Force and should not be included in the BRAC process. Community representatives also argued that the Mission Compatibility Index (MCI) did not accurately assess Hector, particularly regarding its available ramp space, new runway, unencroached airspace, safety record, history of outstanding performance, and proximity to homeland defense and homeland security missions in the north-central United States (near the border with Canada). They felt that Air National Guard units were unfairly punished for their smaller, more efficient sizing, and DoD's overall BRAC recommendations unreasonably favored units in the southern United States. Finally, they argued the loss of the F-16 mission will hurt their recruiting and retention efforts and will have negative economic impacts on the region.
Commission Findings: The Commission found that the projected 20-year Net Present Value savings from realigning Hector IAP AGS were relatively modest. Regarding the Mission Compatibility Index score (MCI), there were instances when the MCI may not have comprehensively or completely assessed the base's military value. In all cases, though, it would appear that the MCI scoring was administered consistently amongst units and bases.
The Commission found the Department of Defense's original justification language cited Hector would be realigned with "no flying mission backfill." Hector appeared to be the only base in which that phrase was used. While the Commission notes that the justification language is in itself not statutory, the Commission recognized that DoD's planned Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) associate mission for Hector is itself a form of flying mission. The Commission found that DoD's recommendation language did not sufficiently provide for future requirements related to the UAV mission Hector would support in conjunction with Grand Forks AFB, ND. This recommendation is consistent with the Commission's Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve Laydown Plan.
Commission Recommendations: The Commission found that the Secretary of Defense deviated substantially from final selection criteria 1 and 2, as well as from the Force Structure Plan. Therefore, the Commission recommends the following:
Realign Hector International Airport Air Guard Station, ND. The 119th Fighter Wing (ANG) will be redesignated as an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle wing; the Armed Forces Reserve Center planned for construction on Hector Field will be expanded to include sufficient facilities to accommodate at minimum the UAV ground control and intelligence analysis functions and expeditionary combat support elements, including fire, crash and rescue services, of the 119th Wing (ANG), in addition to the units already identified in Army Recommendation 73, Reserve Component Transformation in North Dakota; and the Air Force will retain, adapt or construct appropriate facilities on Grand Forks Air Force Base appropriate to launch, recover, maintain and support the Unmanned Aerial Vehicles assigned to the 119th Wing (ANG). The Commission explicitly rejects the language contained in justification to the recommendation by the Secretary of Defense that there will be "no flying mission backfill" at Hector Field. The wing's expeditionary combat support elements remain in place.
The Commission found that this change and the recommendation as amended are consistent with the final selection criteria and the Force Structure Plan. The full text of this and all Commission recommendations can be found in Appendix Q.