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Published July 18, 2012, 06:00 PM

Hoeven: GF AFB Well-positioned for Pick as UAS Test Site

GRAND FORKS (WDAZ-TV) - The Grand Forks Air Force Base is in the running to become one of six test sites nationwide that will fly Unmanned Aircrafts in commercial airspace.

GRAND FORKS (WDAZ-TV) - The Grand Forks Air Force Base is in the running to become one of six test sites nationwide that will fly Unmanned Aircrafts in commercial airspace.

Some people hope this is a good sign the base will stay open and functioning, as many bases will face budget cuts.

According to Senator John Hoeven, the Grand Forks Air Force Base is well positioned to be picked as one of the test sites by the FAA.

But, several people locally say they are "cautiously optimistic" about the outcome.

"The bottom line, there's no money. Now everybody wants something and there's no money so they're all nervous," Council on Military Relations Chair John Marshall said.

Marshall has that same concern because there could be billions of dollars in defense cuts over the next 10 years.

"It's like we're building a base all over again and basically that's what we're doing," Marshall said.

Senator John Hoeven says the Grand Forks Air Force Base is well positioned to be picked as a site to fly Unmanned aerial Aircraft in commercial airspace.

"We've written legislation to require the FAA to set up those sites," Hoeven said.

Hoeven says there should be a decision by the end of the year.

"The process is moving forward that's good, again we want to make sure that Grand Forks is one of those sites and we're doing everything we can to make that happen," Hoeven said.

Hoeven says the pilot site would be a good opportunity for the Grand Forks Air Force Base, the University and businesses supporting UAS operations and Grand Forks Mayor Mike Brown could not agree more.

"UAV's are the future and it's important to be well positioned in that future and I think now that we'll have to continue to work to stay there," Brown said.

This news is a plus to Marshall who says any mission the base can get and keep is important.

"It's a good step, but each thing like this that we can do or they can do fits that puzzle to keep this base open and active," Marshall said.

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