Hoeven to Secretary Mattis: Develop UAS Traffic Management System, Finish Radar Upgrade at Hector Field

Senator Encourages DOD to Use FY17 Funding To Advance UAS Operations

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today pressed the Department of Defense (DoD) to use Fiscal Year 2017 funding to advance unmanned aerial systems (UAS) technologies, including developing an unmanned traffic management system in conjunction with NASA and the Federal Aviation Administration and prioritizing completion of the radar upgrade at Hector Field in Fargo.

“Unmanned aircraft, both large and small, represent the future of aviation. The funding Congress provided in the FY17 omnibus for UAS research and development reflects a strong desire to ensure that DoD requirements and UAS operations are synchronized with civilian UAS activities. I hope that you will advance DoD’s connections with the FAA and NASA to develop unmanned traffic management as well as continue to invest in radar coverage that enables safe DoD flights in the national airspace system (NAS),” Hoeven wrote in a letter to Defense Secretary James Mattis.

Hoeven worked to include strong FY17 funding for the Department of Defense to advance UAS operations, including:

  • $7.3 million for DoD UAS research – a $4 million increase above the budget request. Hoeven encouraged DoD to use the additional funding to evaluate unmanned traffic management technologies under development at NASA and demonstrate their effectiveness in managing traffic around Defense installations, particularly by leveraging the capabilities of the national FAA UAS test sites.
  • $8 million in additional funding in the Air Force’s Air Traffic Control Account. Hoeven pressed DoD to use the additional funding to complete upgrades to the DASR-11 radar upgrade at Hector Field. In the past, this account has been used to upgrade radar displays at installations that support UAS missions, including at Grand Forks Air Force Base. In FY16, DoD invested $400,000 to lay the groundwork for such upgrades at Hector Field. An additional $2 million would complete build out of a DASR-11 radar upgrade at Hector Field. Hoeven said the project should be prioritized because it will provide continuous enhanced radar coverage of UAS flights between Fargo and Grand Forks, enhancing UAS operations at both installations as well as expanding UAS research and evaluation opportunities in relatively uncongested airspace.