Hoeven: UND Becoming World Leader in UAS Training, Research

GRAND FORKS, ND- U.S. Senator John Hoeven today helped dedicate the University of North Dakota Unmanned Aircraft Systems Training Center, another big step toward becoming the leading unmanned aircraft systems training, education and research institution in the world.  

“With this milestone, UND and North Dakota continue to build on our leadership position in both the manned and unmanned aircraft industry,” Hoeven said. “Here the world-class reputation of UND Aerospace is matched with world-class equipment, facilities and expertise. All combined this creates a very promising growth industry for our state.” 

The UND UAS Training Center is the result of an agreement between UND and U.S. Air Force to locate the facility at the Grand Forks Air Force Base. U.S. Sen. John Hoeven joined UND and Air Force officials at the facility in February to sign a historic agreement leading to the conversion of a large building at the base into a state-of-the-art center for research, education and training. 

The center was made possible in large part by a $5 million state Centers of Excellence Enhancement grant, which was approved under the state Centers of Excellence program established by Hoeven during his tenure as governor. The grant funded remodeling and staffing of the facility and helped purchase a Predator Mission Aircrew Training System (PMATS), a state-of-the-art unmanned aircraft simulator that is the cornerstone of the center. UND is the first civilian operator of the PMATS. 

A strong supporter of unmanned aerial systems, Hoeven is working to ensure the region maintains leadership in UAS technology and continues to grow unmanned aerial missions. Key to this is the senator’s effort to attain FAA designation for North Dakota as a test site for concurrent airspace. 

“We’re already flying UAVs in airspace all over the world,” Hoeven said. “Now we need to open the skies for them at home to make our nation more secure, our communities safer, and our economy more dynamic, creating jobs and opportunities in our country.” 

Following the dedication of the training center, Sen. Hoeven met Col. Tim Bush, the new 319th wing commander at Grand Forks Air Force Base, to talk about the base’s Global Hawk reconnaissance mission and its efforts to secure a new air refueling tanker mission. 

As a member of the Senate Appropriations Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Subcommittee, Hoeven is encouraging Air Force officials to station new KC-46A air refueling tankers in Grand Forks. Hoeven asked Air Force leaders to maintain fuel lines at Grand Forks to ensure the base is a strong candidate for basing the tankers. 

“With new Global Hawks arriving this summer and the activation of a new unit on base, Grand Forks plays a key role in our nation’s defense,” Hoeven said.  “I look forward to working with Colonel Bush to continue strengthening Grand Forks Air Force Base’s unmanned aerial operations and to do all we can to make the base a prime candidate for the Air Force’s new refueling tankers.”