ND Senator talks UAS

By Emily Aasand | December 22, 2014

Senator John Hoeven, R-North Dakota, recently met with members of the Grand Forks, North Dakota Base Realignment Impact Committee to outline provisions for the Fiscal Year 2014 omnibus funding bill that supports the Grand Forks Air Force Base to further unmanned aircraft system (UAS) research.

“This legislation supports our efforts in the Grand Forks region, both on the base and as a test site for integrating UAS into the national airspace,” said Hoeven. “We worked to ensure that the bill supports our Global Hawk mission and also invests in UAS research for our test sites to further their work to safely fly both manned and unmanned aircraft together.”

Hoeven worked for the bill to include full 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, his office said.

The Senator also requested $7.8 million for UAS research from the Department of Defense and $6 million for UAS research from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration to support integration research projects at the UAS test sites and to establish a Center of Excellence for UAS research.

Earlier this month, Hoeven pressed FAA Secretary Michael Huerta to make more use of the UAS test sites to integrate UAS into the national airspace. Hoeven asked Huerta to, “ensure that the FAA allows the test sites to support commercial UAS research and development activities.” He also asked for expedited FAA approval of new UAS airframes to fly in the test site’s airspace in which Huerta told the senator that the FAA is in the process of training additional Designated Airworthiness Representatives so that new airframes can be deemed safe to fly for test purposes at the Northern Plaines test site.

Hoeven has been working to help Grand Forks County enter a lease with the Air Force to develop Grand Sky, the region’s aerospace business and technology park. Hoeven brought Northrop Grumman leadership to Grand forks in 2012 to secure the company as an anchor tenant for the complex.

Northrop Grumman recently signed a letter of intent with Grand Sky, making it the first tenant of the 217-acre business park.