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Published October 10, 2013, 03:58 PM

UND announces new UAS training program

The University of North Dakota is set to become the country's first private-sector user of a predator drone training system of the military. The announcement was made at a news conference Thursday at UND's School of Aerospace sciences.

The University of North Dakota is set to become the country's first private-sector user of a predator drone training system of the military. The announcement was made at a news conference Thursday at UND's School of Aerospace sciences.

Lt. Governor Drew Wrigley, along with UND President Robert Kelley and Dean of UND John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences Bruce Smith announced this new first-of-its-kind training program, known as the predator mission aircrew training system or PMAT.

The training program currently is used by military for the Grand Forks Air Force Base predator/global hawk missions. Previously students flew aircraft weighing around 40 pounds, but with this new system they'll fly aircraft more than two times that size. Officials say It will also benefit Grand Forks as a whole. They say they hope this will help North Dakota become one of 6 test sites for unmanned systems.

"That's our goal, not simply to be another player in UAS systems in the United States and globally but to be one of the actual leaders and we think we're there now, but you gotta work hard to stay there," said Wrigley.

The training system course is currently going through beta testing but UND officials say the class will be up and running next semester with 32 enrolled students.

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