Hoeven Invites DHS Secretary Kelly to North Dakota to See UAS Work at Test Site & Grand Sky, Review Role of UAS in Border Security

WASHINGTON – At a hearing of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security today, Senator John Hoeven invited Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary John Kelly to North Dakota to see local efforts to develop unmanned aerial systems (UAS) technology at Grand Sky and the test site, which the secretary accepted. Hoeven highlighted the current role of UAS in securing the borders and stressed how the state is uniquely positioned to improve the nation’s UAS capabilities to better support DHS’ mission.

“As we work to strengthen our southern border, we will see increased pressure on the northern border,” Hoeven said. “We are working with Canada to ensure the border is protected, and this requires the right mix of infrastructure, personnel and technology. The border station in northeastern North Dakota is responsible for more than 900 miles of border, from the Great Lakes through most of Montana. Our border officers rely on UAS flown out of Grand Forks Air Force Base to help keep this area secure. Further, with Grand Sky and the test site, our state is leading the way in developing and improving these kinds of applications for UAS. It will be very beneficial for Secretary Kelly to see the work our UAS industry is doing so that we can better use this technology to protect the border and secure our nation.”

Hoeven has worked since his time as governor to establish North Dakota as a hub of UAS research, development and training. In December, the Northern Plains UAS Test Site received authorization from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to oversee UAS operations that go beyond the line of sight of the operator, which the agency approved at the senator’s request. This authorization gives the state a competitive edge in working with government agencies, such as DHS, to integrate UAS into the national airspace.