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Published June 01, 2011, 10:07 PM

First Global Hawk Arrival Establishes GF's Place In UAS Operations

The first Global Hawk unmanned aircraft in place at the Grand Forks Air Force Base, establishing Grand Forks as the second main UAS operating base in the country.

Though the first Global Hawk sat stationary in a hanger of the Grand Forks Air Force Base, it was flying the Grand Forks into the future.

"Now North Dakota is taking its place front and center," said Gary Ervin with Northrop Grumman, a manufacturer of Global Hawks.

This arrival, the first of 11 - 10 coming to the base and one staying at the Edwards Air Force Base in California, is transforming the Red River Valley into the hotspot for UAS research.

"There's a lot of national airspace, and very little congestion. We can utilize that to exercise UAV and RPA systems," said Lt. Col. Scott West with the GFAB.

This Global Hawk is also helping education in Grand Forks soar.

"The partnership with UND for a bachelor of science in UAS training and piloting and Northland Community and Technical College now offering a program in UAS maintenance," said Ervin.

Beyond this area, this arrival is also linking Grand Forks to the world. Countries like Japan and Korea are developing their own UAS operations will help further develop our local economy.

"All those folks will need to be trained and they'll need the support, and they'll come to Grand Forks to get that," said Ed Walby with Northrop.

Representatives for Congressman Rick Berg and Senator Kent Conrad pointed out this technology is not just isolated to North Dakota. We have seen how it is impacting the country.

"The mission to get Osama Bin Laden has shown how U-A-S has revolutionized how we protect national interests," said Shelly Klein, a representative for Conrad.

"The Grand Forks Air Force Base is on the forefront of technology that holds enormous potential for military and private sector innovation," said Randy Richards, a representative for Berg.

Perhaps most importantly, it this first Global Hawk is bring a smile to so many faces in Grand Forks and on the Base.

"We're just tickled pink to be in Grand Forks," said West.