Hoeven Working to Secure Grand Forks Role as Part of President's UAS Executive Order

Hoeven Added Language for NOAA Arctic Mission in FY18 Appropriations Bill, Continues Working to Build Grand Forks Region, North Dakota into UAS Hub

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven this week invited unmanned aerial systems (UAS) leaders from Grand Forks to Washington to outline North Dakota’s UAS expertise and infrastructure to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), as the agency works to implement an executive order signed by the President this week creating a new drone integration pilot program. Hoeven is working to set up a meeting between the FAA and Grand Forks representatives, including leaders from the Northern Plains Test Site and Grand Sky Development Co., to ensure the FAA utilizes North Dakota expertise when selecting projects under the new program.

For over a decade, Hoeven has been working to build North Dakota’s unmanned aerial system (UAS) industry, including authoring legislation to establish the Northern Plains Test site and securing Grand Sky and UAS missions at the Grand Forks Air Force Base.

“We’re pleased that the Administration recognizes the importance of the UAS industry. My office has been in touch with the White House and we’re working with leaders in Grand Forks to ensure that the FAA uses the extensive UAS expertise and infrastructure we’ve put in place in the Grand Forks region as it implements this executive order. North Dakota is leading the way in developing, testing and deploying UAS operations and we continue working to build our leadership in this exciting industry.” 

Hoeven continues working 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.

Additionally, Hoeven continues working to secure an Arctic mission for Grand Forks. Hoeven secured language rejecting the proposed elimination of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s UAS program office. The FY18 Commerce Justice Science (CJS) appropriations bill, which was marked up in committee in July, includes report language that rejects the elimination of the UAS program office, instructs NOAA to spend no less on UAS in FY18 than it did in FY17 and encourages NOAA to conduct Arctic research using its UAS assets.  

In August, Hoeven hosted U.S. Air Force (USAF) General Lori Robinson, leader of the North American Aerospace Defense Command and Commander, U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM), for a meeting and tour at the GFAFB and Grand Sky. The senator has worked in recent years to secure an Arctic mission for Grand Forks. Hoeven led a delegation to NORTHCOM headquarters in 2014 and invited Gen. Robinson to the state last year.