Dorgan, Conrad Advocate More UAV Work for Grand Forks

Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) has petitioned the Air Force to place even more unmanned aerial vehicle operations at Grand Forks AFB, N.D., which already is slated to host both Predator-class and Global Hawk UAVs, even as he continues to push the service to field new KC-X tankers there as well. In a May 27 statement, Dorgan said, “Expanding the [unmanned] mission at the Grand Forks Air Force Base just makes good sense.” He had earlier sent a letter to Air Force leaders noting that the base will have “sufficient excess facilities, dormitories, and family housing for this [UAV] mission as well as a potential future KC-X mission.” Fellow Democrat Sen. Kent Conrad told attendees at the 2009 Unmanned Aircraft Systems Action Summit, an event organized by Dorgan, “These aircraft are clearly the way of the future and that future resides right here in Grand Forks.” Included in that characterization was the University of North Dakota, which Conrad said could rightly be “the future hub” for the UAV enterprise because it is home to the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Center of Excellence and “is ready to train the UAS pilots of tomorrow.” (Conrad May 27 release)