Hoeven to DHS Secretary Nominee: North Dakota Uniquely Positioned to Advance New UAS Technology, Improve Homeland Security

Senator Invites DHS Nominee to North Dakota to See Grand Sky, UAS Test Site & CBP UAS Facility

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven, a member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, today met with Kirstjen Nielsen, the nominee to serve as the Secretary of Homeland Security. The senator highlighted how new developments in unmanned aerial systems (UAS) can bolster the work of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to strengthen security at the borders, provide vital support when responding to natural disasters and protect against emerging threats, like the misuse of UAS.

Further, Hoeven stressed that North Dakota is uniquely positioned to develop technology and UAS applications to meet these goals due to its convergence of military, private and public UAS research, training and operations. This includes the renovated facility the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) recently leasedfor its UAS operations and training on the Grand Forks Air Force Base. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Hoeven secured $8 million in Fiscal Year 2017 funding to ensure that CBP’s UAS facility would remain in Grand Forks. Hoeven invited Nielsen to visit North Dakota when confirmed, which she accepted, to see this work firsthand at the Grand Sky Technology Park, the Northern Plains UAS Test Site and the air base.

“Ms. Nielsen has an extensive background in national security issues, having most recently served directly under former DHS Secretary John Kelly,” said Hoeven. “Our conversation was an opportunity to drive home our priorities for the department, including securing our borders through the right mix of infrastructure, technology and personnel. Between Grand Sky, our UAS test site and the CBP’s training and operations center at the Grand Forks Air Force Base, North Dakota is a natural fit for developing the UAS technology that will help DHS succeed in its mission.” 

Hoeven is working to build on the past decade of efforts to ensure North Dakota leads in developing the future of the UAS industry. This includes low altitude beyond-line-of-flight 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 lead advancements in these areas due to two components Hoeven helped secure over the past couple of years:

  • Authorization for the Northern Plains UAS Test Site to oversee UAS operations that go beyond the 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.