Hoeven Helps Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Protect Against UAS Misuse, Develop Counter-UAS Technology

Legislation Complements Senator’s Efforts to Secure North Dakota’s Role in Developing Counter-UAS Technology

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven, a member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC) and the Senate Appropriations Committee on Homeland Security, this week helped introduce bipartisan legislation to protect against the potential misuse of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) and support the development of counter-UAS technology. The Preventing Emerging Threats Act of 2018 would give the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) authority to protect important facilities from security risks posed by unmanned aircraft. At the same time, the bill directs DHS to evaluate emerging UAS threats and to research and test technology to address these risks. The full text of the legislation can be found here

“Developing UAS detection and counter-UAS technologies is necessary for us to safely integrate unmanned aircraft into our National Airspace,” said Hoeven. “This legislation provides the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Justice with the tools they need to protect against UAS threats to our national security, which will help to ensure the safe use of legitimate UAS so this industry can continue to grow and develop.”

This legislation complements similar efforts Hoeven is undertaking with DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. Hoeven is advocating utilizing Grand Forks’ UAS facilities and expertise to both develop counter-UAS technologies and train the agency’s UAS pilots. To this end, the senator and Secretary Nielsen are working on a timeline for her to visit Grand Forks this summer, which will allow her to see firsthand the work of the Grand Sky Technology Park, the Northern Plains UAS Test Site, the CBP UAS facility and the Grand Forks Air Force Base.

In addition, Hoeven joined Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao last week to announce that North Dakota was selected as one of ten sites to participate in the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) UAS integration pilot program. As part of this program, the North Dakota test site and the state’s UAS industry will be on the forefront of establishing the safe operation of unmanned aircraft in the national airspace (NAS), providing regulatory certainty for UAS operators and ensuring privacy concerns are addressed.

The state’s inclusion in the FAA pilot program reinforces North Dakota’s role as a leader in the future of the UAS industry. This includes developments in low altitude beyond-visual-line-of-sight applications, UAS detection/counter-UAS technologies and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) unmanned traffic management (UTM) system. The state is able to make advancements in these areas due to two components Hoeven helped secure in recent years:

  • Authorization for the Northern Plains UAS Test Site to oversee UAS operations that go beyond the visual line of sight of the operator.
  • Upgrades for the DASR-11 digital radar systems at the Grand Forks Air Force Base and a similar system at Hector Field in Fargo.