Hoeven pushes to expand North Dakota’s Grand Sky

By Emily Aasand | May 01, 2015

In a recent call with Gen. Herbert Carlisle, commander of Air Combat Command, Langley Air Force Base, Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., made the case for a training program to be housed at Grand Sky, North Dakota’s aerospace tech park. Grand Sky links to the Northern Plains U.S. Federal Aviation Administration unmanned aircraft system (UAS) test site.

The Air Force needs more pilots to keep up with heavy demand for Predator and Reaper missions, Hoeven said. He added that Grand Sky can provide the Air Force with a place to train UAS pilots and crews to help avert a pilot shortage.

“In our discussion with General Carlisle, I highlighted our strong support for the Global Hawk as well as the Predator mission, and also underscored the point that Grand Sky is a perfect fit for training Air Force pilots in UAS operations,” said Hoeven. “I also invited him to visit Grand Forks Air Force Base to meet the outstanding personnel who operate and maintain the UAS at the base and see for himself just how suitable Grand Sky would be to train the next generation of Air Force UAS pilots.”

Along with using Grand Sky as a base for a training program, Hoeven also asked Carlisle to work with him and Grand Forks officials to complete the review of an agreement between the Grand Sky technology park and Grand Forks Air Force Base to provide for joint use of the base’s runway. An agreement which Hoeven says is “the next step toward full operations at Grand Sky.”

Completion of this agreement would allow tenants like Northrop Grumman at Grand Sky to operate their UAS alongside the base’s Global Hawks.

In early April, Northrop Grumman, maker of the Global Hawk, signed a lease agreement that would make the aerospace and defense technology giant the anchor tenant in Grand Sky. Hoeven also recently met with General Atomics CEO Linden Blue and vice president and retired general Ray Johns of FlightSafety International to encourage them to consider Grand Sky as a location for their UAS flight training programs.

FlightSafety International operates 40 learning centers and training locations in the United States and in nine countries around the world.

Grand Sky is backed by a consortium of private equity investors looking for commercial UAS opportunities. Offering 1.2 million square feet of hanger, shop, lab and data center space, construction on the park is expected to begin this spring.


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