Hoeven Discusses Ideal Aerosmith's Ongoing Expansion, $17 Million Naval Research Contract He Worked to Secure

Senator Outlines Efforts to Strengthen North Dakota’s Role in National Defense, Including through New Space Networking Center & Sky Range Program

GRAND FORKS, N.D. – Senator John Hoeven today met with the leaders of Ideal Aerosmith in Grand Forks, where he discussed the company’s ongoing expansion and outlined his efforts to strengthen North Dakota’s leadership in unmanned aerial systems (UAS) research, development, training and operations. In December, Hoeven announced a $17 million Office of Naval Research (ONR) contract to Ideal Aerosmith that he worked to advance as a member of the Senate Defense Appropriations Committee. Under the contract, the company is developing an Expeditionary Mission Support Station, which:

  • Includes a mission planning suite for special operations as well as a ground station for controlling multiple unmanned aircraft and sensor systems.
  • Enables mission planners to access classified and non-classified information in one place, including data from intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) operations.
  • Allows ISR and other sensor data to be more readily available for re-planning of a mission based on changing weather conditions or new threats that are encountered.
  • This improves the effectiveness of ISR operations and makes special operations planning faster, easier and more flexible.

Due to opportunities like this, Ideal Aerosmith has grown to 114 employees, up from 81 just two years ago, is in the process of remodeling its main location and is expanding to the former WDAZ building in Grand Forks. 

“We’ve worked for 17 years to build an unmatched UAS ecosystem in North Dakota, and Ideal Aerosmith has not only been an important partner, but continues to enhance the capabilities of unmanned aircraft, like those flown in Grand Forks’ ISR mission,” said Hoeven. “Every day, we are working to unlock new opportunities for, and bring new missions to, this region, helping to ensure a central role for our state in the future of our nation’s defense.”

The ONR contract aligns with Hoeven’s long-term efforts to strengthen North Dakota’s role in defending the nation and build upon its leadership in UAS. To this end, the senator has worked to establish a convergence between federal, state, military, private and academic partners in North Dakota. This includes the tenants of the Grand Sky UAS Business and Technology Park; the ISR mission and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) unmanned operations at GFAFB; and the Northern Plains UAS Test Site, as well as Hoeven’s most recent efforts to:

  • Secure a new Space Networking Center at GFAFB, which will support the Space Development Agency’s low-Earth orbit (LEO) satellite mission and will serve as the backbone for U.S. military communications across the globe.
    • Hoeven is working to link the LEO mission with the state’s UAS industry and helped advance a project todemonstrate laser communications between satellites and MQ-9 Reapers.
    • The MQ-9 is flown by the North Dakota Air National Guard in Fargo and produced by General Atomics, a tenant of Grand Sky.
  • Establish the Sky Range program at Grand Sky, under which the Test Resource Management Center (TRMC) will convert 24 Global Hawk aircraft to be used for hypersonic missile testing.