Hoeven Worked to Secure Grand Sky Enhanced Use Lease Signed Today, Bring Anchor Tenant Northrop Grumman to Park

Senator Continues to Lead Effort to Make Grand Forks Area a UAS Technology Hub for the Nation

GRAND FORKS – At a celebration at Grand Forks Air Force Base (GFAFB) today, Senator John Hoeven marked the signing of the base’s Enhanced Use Lease (EUL), which allows for the development of Grand Sky, a cutting-edge, first-of-its-kind unmanned aerial systems (UAS) technology and business park that is expected to create up to 3,000 jobs. Hoeven has led the effort to help Grand Forks County advance Grand Sky and secure the EUL with the U.S. Air Force, including securing an anchor tenant for the park.

In 2012, Hoeven brought senior Northrop Grumman officials, including Tom Vice, Northrop Grumman’s Corporate VP and President of Aerospace Systems, to Grand Forks to see firsthand the collaboration between the Grand Forks Base Realignment Impact Committee (BRIC), the University of North Dakota (UND), the UND Aerospace Foundation and the Northland Aerospace Foundation. As a result, Northrop Grumman, one of the world’s premier aerospace and defense technology companies, committed to be the park’s first tenant. Northrop Grumman makes the RQ-4 Global Hawk, which is operated by the Air Force’s 69th Reconnaissance Group at GFAFB.

“As both a governor and senator, I have worked to help build Grand Forks as a prime location for expanding our nation’s UAS capabilities and to establish the region as a hub of UAS technology,” Hoeven said. “Many steps have been required to bring us here, but with the signing of the enhanced use lease, the development of Grand Sky can finally move forward. This is a tremendous opportunity not only for the base, the county and their partners, but also for our nation as we stay on the cutting-edge of technology and maintain our position as the leader in global aviation research.”

Hoeven continues his work to support the missions at GFAFB and help to further the region as a leader in UAS technology. Last week, the senator announced that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approved a request by the Northern Plains Unmanned Aerial Systems Test Site, one of six national test sites Hoeven worked to create in the FAA’s 2012 reauthorization bill, to conduct UAS flights through an expanded area of North Dakota’s airspace. Hoeven wrote and spoke with FAA Administrator Michael Huerta multiple times last year pressing him to advance the process, and the FAA approved the test site’s application for a broad area certification of authorization (COA) for UAS flights.

As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, the senator also worked to secure the following provisions in the fiscal year (FY) 2015 appropriations bill:

  • Full Funding for the Global Hawk: Provides funding for the RQ-4 Global Hawk in 2015.  The Air Force previously considered divesting the Global Hawk fleet, but Hoeven worked to convince them to keep the Global Hawk and divest the older U-2 fleet.
  • Support for UAS Research: Includes an additional $7.8 million Hoeven requested for UAS research at the Department of Defense and an additional $6 million for UAS research at the FAA. This funding will support integration research projects that can be performed at the UAS test sites and the establishment of a Center of Excellence for UAS research.