Northrop Grumman presents UND with UAS training system

By Patrick C. Miller | August 08, 2014

Under a cooperative training between Northrop Grumman Corp. and the University of North Dakota (UND) in Grand Forks, N.D., the university has received two SandShark remotely-piloted aircraft (RPA) trainers.

Northrup Grumman and UND announced the signing of the agreement last May. In June at the UAS Summit in Grand Forks, Northrup Grumman officials presented the SandShark training system to UND President Robert Kelley.

SandShark emulates manually flown RPAs, offering pilots a realistic, hands-on flying experience. The aircraft is optimized for 10 times the number of takeoffs and landings of an operational RPA, providing significantly more affordable training.

SandShark aircraft and ground terminals are based at select airfields across the nation. Pilots fly the aircraft from anywhere in the country through a commercial broadband Internet connection or 4G cellular network.

Under the three-year cooperative agreement, Northrop Grumman is providing two SandShark RPAs and a ground station to advance research collaboration between the company and UND, and to broaden the university's flight training program by extending training to international students.

"The international UAS training market is growing exponentially and the University of North Dakota is considered a UAS training center of excellence," said Al Palmer,director of UND’s Center for UAS Training, Research and Education.

"Until now, we haven't offered international UAS pilot training because of our minimal deployment experience. Our partnership with Northrop Grumman, using SandShark, enables us to provide training to international students on their native soil," he said.

The agreement also facilitates new career development programs and employment opportunities for students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines and aviation programs.

"We are committed to working with the university to build and strengthen a diverse STEM workforce and we are proud to provide key technology that enables expansion of their training pursuits," said Bob Gamache, Northrup Grumman Technical Services’ director of special mission systems. "The real-world training these students receive will prove invaluable as they enter the aviation profession."