ND trade mission cements relationship with Elbit Systems

By Patrick C. Miller | February 04, 2016

Elbit Systems—recently listed as one of the top five vendors in the global unmanned aerial systems (UAS) market—met in Israel with a North Dakota trade mission to discuss arrangements for a research project planned for the state.

“This was really an effort from North Dakota’s perspective—the Grand Forks Economic Development Corp., the Department of Commerce and the governor’s office—to go to Elbit and cement the relationship and show that the state really supports this UAS activity,” said Dean Gorder, North Dakota Trade Office executive director.

North Dakota Lt. Gov. Drew Wrigley and Doug Goehring, state agriculture commissioner, led a 24-member multi-industry trade mission to Israel and Egypt in late January. The goal was to strengthen relationships with Israeli and Egyptian government and business leaders in the UAS, agriculture, cybersecurity, defense and foreign direct investment sectors.

Next summer in collaboration with North Dakota State University and the Northern Plains UAS Test Site—one of six approved by the Federal Aviation Administration—Elbit will begin flying its large-scale, high-altitude Hermes 450 UAS. Initial operations will focus on precision agriculture research, collecting data to monitor and track chemically resistant weeds, crop stands and nutrient deficiencies.   

Wrigley and university representatives met with Elbit, which is based in Haifa, Israel.  According to NDTO, the operations with the Hermes will demonstrate a significant step toward full integration of UAS commercial operations in the national airspace system.

"A large-scale UAS operation allows more agricultural data to be collected faster and at altitudes up to 8,000 feet," said Wrigley, who serves as chairman of the state’s UAS test site. "We're making important strides in the UAS and precision ag sectors in North Dakota, as well as supplying data to the Federal Aviation Administration in an effort to allow commercial UAS to operate simultaneously with manned aircraft in the future."

A recent research report released by Technavio—a global technology research and advisory company in London—named Elbit one of the top five global UAS vendors based on market revenue contributions.

“Elbit gave us a significant amount of time and access to very senior-level executives,” Gorder said. “We were able to lay out our vision for the future for the UAS industry in North Dakota. Elbit was very much in agreement with what the state of North Dakota was discussing.”

Gorder said Elbit representatives would be in North Dakota on Feb. 25 for another round of meetings during UAS Industry Day in Fargo.


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