Hoeven: Preventing Emerging Threats Act Passes HSGAC Committee, Moves to Full Senate

Senator Working to Advance North Dakota’s UAS Expertise, Support Development of Counter-UAS Technologies

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven, a member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC) and the Senate Appropriations Committee on Homeland Security, today issued the following statement after the Preventing Emerging Threats Act of 2018, bipartisan legislation he helped introduce, was passed by committee. The legislation 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 unmanned aerial systems (UAS) threats and to research and test technology to address these risks. 

“The ability to safely integrate UAS into our national airspace is essential to allowing this industry to thrive,” said Hoeven. “Our legislation would advance this effort by empowering DHS and DOJ to protect against emerging UAS threats and support the development of technologies that allow us to detect and counter the misuse of unmanned aircraft. North Dakota is well-equipped to play a central role in developing these capabilities, and I will continue working to ensure the administration makes use of our state’s expertise in this field.”

The legislation complements Hoeven’s efforts to advocate for the administration to utilize Grand Forks’ UAS facilities and expertise to strengthen national security, develop counter-UAS technologies and address the pilot shortage, both for manned and unmanned aircraft. To this end, the senator and DHS Secretary Kirstjen 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 University of North Dakota’s aerospace school, Customs and Border Protection’s UAS facility and the Grand Forks Air Force Base. 

Further, Hoeven joined Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao last month 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 at 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.