Gov. Jack Dalrymple and Northrop Grumman Vice President Thomas Vice pledged today to advance a partnership that will support the Grand Forks Air Force Base and expand the state's business opportunities involving unmanned aerial systems (UAS). Dalrymple and Vice spoke early today by phone to continue work on developing North Dakota's UAS business opportunities.
"Northrop Grumman recognizes the many opportunities that exist around North Dakota's strong aerospace industry and resources," Dalrymple said. "We have the air space, UND aerospace sciences, the Air Force and many other resources that can support a national hub for UAS technology and research."
Thomas, who also serves as president of Grumman's Aerospace Systems Sector, said the aerospace and defense technology company is pursuing the establishment of a UAS center at the Grand Forks base. Grumman, he said, is working with the Air Force to develop an enhanced used lease agreement and become a tenant at the base's new UAS complex.
Dalrymple and Vice agreed to meet in the Grand Forks area as soon as their schedules allow to further develop the partnership and UAS business opportunities.
Dalrymple included in his executive budget funding to advance the state's efforts at landing a national UAS test site. The funding proposal includes $1 million to pursue a national designation and $4 million for operational costs to be appropriated only if North Dakota is selected to operate a test site.
Grumman, which manufactures the Global Hawk, is also working with the Grand Forks Base Realignment Impact Committee, the University of North Dakota, the UND Aerospace Foundation, the Northland Aerospace Foundation and Grand Forks area officials in an effort to establish a UAS business presence at the military base.