Hoeven: Funding Agreement Provides $8 Million to Keep CBP UAS Training in Grand Forks

Legislation Supports UAS Research, Training & Operations in North Dakota

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced that the Fiscal Year 2017 funding agreement includes $8 million in funding for a new facility for U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to conduct its unmanned aerial systems (UAS) training out of Grand Forks, allowing the agency to retain its training program at the air base.

“Due to growth on the base, CBP’s current UAS training facility is no longer available,” said Hoeven. “This funding is crucial in helping to keep the CBP UAS training program in North Dakota, which is important for the Grand Forks region as well as ensuring we have trained pilots to keep our border secure.”

Hoeven also worked to secure strong support for UAS research, training and operations that will advance the integration of UAS into the national airspace and support growing operations in North Dakota.

“UAS holds a great deal of promise for our nation, both in our economy and security, and we are building the future of this industry right here in North Dakota,” Hoeven said. “That’s why I worked to support programs that will help us develop UAS technology, improve the operations in our state and grow our leadership in this exciting industry.” 

The provisions in the funding bill, which Congress is working to pass this week, include:

UAS Research through the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) – $20 million

Includes $10 million to support the FAA’s UAS Center of Excellence, which is co-led by the University of North Dakota. 

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) UAS Fleet – $15 million

Supports the standardization of CBP’s Predator fleet, which is manufactured by General Atomics, a tenant of the Grand Sky UAS Technology Park, into a single configuration. This will reduce the operating costs of CBP’s fleet, part of which is flown out of the Grand Forks Air Force Base (GFAFB).

Department of Defense UAS Research - $7.3 million

Supports continued investments in UAS infrastructure and enhanced operations, such as the DASR-11 digital radar system at GFAFB and a similar system at Hector Field in Fargo. Hoeven previously worked to secure $3 million through this program for upgrades to these systems, which were vital to the FAA’s approval of beyond-line-of-sight operations for the Northern Plains UAS test site.