Military

General Atomics To Quadruple Footprint At US Drone Research Park

By R&WI Staff | August 10, 2018
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Creech Airmen showcase the MQ-9 Reaper at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia, for the 2018 Airpower over Hampton Roads air show, May 19 to 20, 2018. Remotely piloted aircraft maintainers, aircrew and support personnel bring the MQ-9 to airshows across the nation to allow the public to get a closer look at the Reaper and the Airmen who support it. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Air Force

Drone maker General Atomics will nearly quadruple its footprint in the Grand Forks, North Dakota, industrial park dedicated to unmanned aerial systems research and development.

GA Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) currently occupies 5.5 acres at Grand Sky, the first and only fully operational civil unmanned aerial systems (UAS)-focused research and development park in the U.S. Under a new 10-year lease, the company will expand to 20 acres at the park, which is adjacent to Grand Forks Air Force Base’s 12,351-ft runway.

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“This announcement is validation of the value Grand Sky provides to Grand Forks and the industry as a whole,” said Thomas Swoyer, Jr., president of Grand Sky Development Company, in a prepared statement. “Our vision from the beginning was to attract world-class companies to Grand Forks and help them grow their UAS businesses here. Today’s announced expansion certainly demonstrates that vision has become reality.”

GA-ASI is a leading manufacturer of remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) systems, radars and electro-optic and related mission systems. Its products include the MQ-1 Predator, MQ-1C Gray Eagle, MQ-9 Reaper and Predator C Avenger fixed-wing unmanned aircraft systems.

The company currently operates a flight test and training center in Grand Forks, with flight operations taking place at Grand Sky, in addition to other research activities. The company intends to use its expanded footprint at Grand Sky to support UAS aircraft and sensor testing, training and development activities.

"We're excited to expand our footprint at Grand Sky as part of our Flight Test and Training Center in Grand Forks, North Dakota," said Linden Blue, CEO, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI). "This growth, from 5.5 acres to 20 acres, will benefit our customers, as well as strengthen our commitment to the Grand Forks community as we further build out our test and training capabilities."

Since its groundbreaking in 2015, Grand Sky has served as a leader in the emerging and rapidly expanding UAS industry. Its location on Grand Forks Air Force Base provides tenants with access to a 12,351-ft runway, making it unique in its ability to accommodate large UAS operations. Additionally, Grand Sky provides amenities including secure networks, round-the-clock security and uncongested airspace with more than 300 days of flying weather every year.

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