Is an Arctic Mission in the Future of Grand Forks AFB?

Is an Arctic Mission in the Future of Grand Forks AFB?

 North Dakota’s two senators are trying to promote Grand Forks Air Force Base as a center for the military’s Arctic operations, which would take advantage of the installation’s unmanned aerial systems (UAS) mission to provide reconnaissance for a region whose resources are increasingly being sought by other global powers.

“The Arctic is increasingly important to our nation’s security, and I believe the Global Hawk can help our military prepare to meet the objective of increasing our awareness of activity in this region,” said Sen. John Hoeven (R).

David Deptula, dean of the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies, agreed, saying the installation should be part of an effort to help the nation establish a presence in the Arctic region.

“Maintaining peace and stability and open access to the Arctic is in everybody’s best interest,” said Deptula, a retired Air Force lieutenant general. “Grand Forks is a logical focal point in the northern United States that provides the access and the infrastructure that is already available and operating.”

In addition to hosting three different unmanned aircraft models, Grand Forks is home to the Grand Sky unmanned aerial UAS business and aviation park. The companies setting up operations at the nation’s first UAS park, such as General Atomics Aeronautical Systems and Northrop Grumman, could play a significant role in meeting the military’s Arctic goals, reported Stars and Stripes.

“I believe there is an inherent public-private partnership to that mission,” said Thomas Swoyer Jr., president of Grand Sky Development Co.

Hoeven and Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D) now are trying to lure Air Force Gen. Lori Robinson — who in May became commander of U.S. Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command — to visit Grand Forks.


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