Hoeven: Northrop Grumman On Schedule to Sign Historic Lease Next Month

Senator Meets with Company CEO to Advance UAS Industry in Grand Forks Region

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven this week met with Northrop Grumman CEO Wes Bush to help advance the unmanned aerial systems industry in Grand Forks and to discuss the future of Air Force’s Global Hawk.

The senator worked to secure a commitment from Northrop Grumman to be the anchor tenant at Grand Sky, the region’s state-of-the-art aerospace business and technology park on the Grand Forks Air Force Base. The new high-tech complex will provide cutting-edge facilities for unmanned aerial systems.

“Grand Sky is a tremendous opportunity for the Grand Forks region and also for Northrop Grumman,” Hoeven said. “The company continues to work closely with Grand Forks County, the Air Force and its other partners to build this one-of-a-kind facility that will establish the Grand Forks region as the premier northern hub for UAS operations and innovation.”

Hoeven worked for two years with Bush, as well as with Thomas Vice, Northrop Grumman’s Corporate VP and President of its Aerospace Systems Sector, to secure a commitment from the company to be Grand Sky’s anchor tenant. A year ago the company and its partners signed an historic strategic alliance agreement between the aerospace giant and the Grand Forks Base Realignment Impact Committee (BRIC), University of North Dakota (UND), UND Aerospace Foundation (UNDAF) and Northland Aerospace Foundation.

The senator also pushed for an Enhanced Use Lease (EUL) with top U.S. Air Force officials and Grand Forks County to establish Grand Sky on the base. The Air Force has announced its intention to sign the lease, enabling the county to build the complex on approximately 217 acres on the base Air Force Base. Hoeven said he expects the EUL between Grand Forks County and the Air Force to be signed next month, and Northrop Grumman is also expected to finalize its agreement with the county.

In addition, the last FAA Reauthorization bill passed by Congress includes an amendment authored and introduced by Hoeven that directed the agency to establish the six UAS test sites across the nation to integrate UAS into the National Airspace System. In December, Grand Forks was selected as one of the sites, making it ideal as a hub for the UAS industry.

The senator has also worked in the Senate to preserve the Global Hawk system, which is manufactured by Northrop Grumman and flown at Grand Forks Air Force Base, as a key part of the Air Force’s intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance fleet.

The Air Force announced that it intends to rely on the Global Hawk for future intelligence missions while retiring the older U-2 fleet. However, the Air Force also indicated budget pressures may threaten the Global Hawk in the future. As a member of the Appropriations Committee, Hoeven worked to secure language in the FY14 appropriations bill that protected the Global Hawk fleet from budget cuts.

“We have been able to secure full funding through 2015,” Hoeven said. “The aircraft is performing well, and I expect it will prove itself worthy of strong investments from the Air Force well into the future. I will continue to make funding for the Global Hawk a priority in the Appropriations Committee and in the Senate.”

Hoeven is a member of the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Subcommittee of the Appropriations Committee.