Hoeven Working to Recruit Raytheon to Grand Forks, Showcases Dynamic UAS Tech Environment in North Dakota

Senator Working to Secure Beyond-Line-Of-Sight Operability by End of Year

GRAND FORKS, N.D. – Senator John Hoeven today hosted Raytheon Company executives for a tour of Grand Sky Technology Park, followed by a roundtable at the Center for Innovation with Grand Forks leaders in the unmanned aerial systems (UAS) sector. The senator highlighted the infrastructure and expertise in North Dakota’s UAS sector and the opportunities for Raytheon to develop its radar and sensing technologies, as well as other high-tech electronic products, in the vibrant UAS technology environment offered by the region.

“We brought officials from Raytheon to Grand Forks to highlight the kind of dynamic UAS technology and business environment we can offer them – an environment they won’t find anywhere elsewhere,” Hoeven said. “We’ve just passed the new FAA bill, which includes our legislation to extend the UAS test sites’ authorization for three more years, and we’re working to get the FAA to approve beyond-line-of-site operations, which means companies would no longer need manned chase planes or ground based observers to test new technologies. This is an important consideration for a company like Raytheon that develops electronic sensor and radar technology.”

Raytheon Company is a major defense industry contractor that specializes in weapons, military and commercial electronics, including air traffic control systems, radar and sensing technology.

The company designed and manufactures the Enhanced Integrated Sensor Suite (EISS) on Northrup Grumman’s Global Hawk UAS, which is stationed in North Dakota. The technology can accurately pinpoint stationary or moving targets and transmit imagery and position information from 60,000 feet with near real-time speed and clarity. Northrup Grumman is already a tenant in Grand Sky Technology Park.

Representatives from the University of North Dakota’s John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Science; Grand Sky Business and Technology Park; the Northern Plains UAS Test Site; the Grand Forks Economic Development Corporation; and the Base Realignment Impact Committee (BRIC) showcased the advantages of locating a Raytheon facility in North Dakota’s growing hub for UAS technology research, development and training.

Presenters at the roundtable included:

• Grand Sky Business and Technology Park, who underscored the synergies created in the park with major companies like Northrup Grumman, General Atomics and Flight Safety International working in close proximity.
• UND’s John D Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences, who highlighted the UAS Center of Excellence, research efforts and pilot training.
• Northern Plains UAS Test Site, who described on-going test operations and integration efforts, including its work with Hoeven to secure beyond-line-of-sight and higher altitude operability.
• Grand Forks Economic Development Corporation, who reviewed incentive programs available to companies locating in North Dakota and UAS projects centered on precision agriculture.
• Base Realignment Impact Committee, who underscored the close working relationship between the Grand Forks Air Force Base, future mission development and relations with Grand Forks city and county government.

Today’s roundtable is another example of Hoeven’s ongoing and calculated effort to attract high-tech companies to North Dakota and establish Grand Forks as the premier northern hub for UAS research, development and training.

The senator recently returned from California, where he met with top leaders at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Ames Research Center in Moffet Field, California to make the case for developing NASA’s Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM) system and other programs at the Northern Plains UAS Test Site in North Dakota.

The partnership with NASA and securing approval for beyond-line-of-sight operations would help advance the integration of UAS into the national airspace, which Hoeven has actively worked to advance. Last month, Hoeven successfully included a provision in the FAA Reauthorization Extension to extend the authorization for the nation’s UAS test sites, including the Northern Plains UAS Test Site, through September 2019.

As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Hoeven has also worked to secure funding and language supporting UAS research, development and operations at NASA, the FAA, the Department of Defense (DoD) and other federal agencies in Fiscal Year (FY) 2017