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General Atomics Plans To Set Up Drone Academy In Grand Forks

General Atomics is one of the world's leading developers of high-technology systems.

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North Dakota's unmanned aircraft business and technology park is about to land a second major defense contractor, according to two members of the state's congressional delegation.

Sen. John Hoeven and Rep. Kevin Cramer announced Monday that General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. has reached a tentative agreement with the city of Grand Forks to establish an unmanned aerial systems training academy at Grand Sky, which is located on the Grand Forks Air Force Base.

General Atomics is one of the world's leading developers of high-technology systems, including the Predator and Reaper drones. Two executives from the company's aircraft systems group toured the Grand Sky site Monday and met with area leaders.

"This decision is testament to the hard work and dedication of local officials to attract new high tech opportunities to the area," Cramer said. "Grand Forks is fast becoming the epicenter for UAS development and training in our nation."

Grand Sky is the nation's first unmanned aircraft business park. Construction is expected to start later this month.

Northrop Grumman, which manufactures the Global Hawk drone, already has signed a lease agreement to be the first tenant at the park. Both General Atomics and Northrop Grumman sell aircraft overseas and expect to train international pilots in the United States.

The tentative agreement with General Atomics a "big step forward," Hoeven said.

"By working together, General Atomics and Grand Forks can help to solve a real challenge for the Air Force and at the same time help to create good jobs and build Grand Forks as a premier hub for UAS training, research, testing and manufacturing," the senator said.

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