GRAND FORKS, N.D. – Gov. Doug Burgum released the following statement today after Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen’s visit to the Grand Sky commercial unmanned aerial systems (UAS) research and development park in Grand Forks. Nielsen held a roundtable with UAS leaders to review developments and receive updates from the facility.
“We thank Secretary Nielsen for making it a priority to visit Grand Sky to see first-hand the exceptional work North Dakota is doing to contribute to our national defense,” Burgum said. “Through innovative public-private partnerships like Grand Sky, North Dakota continues to be a leader in emerging UAS technology, including airspace integration efforts and counter-UAS advancements. Between today’s visit and North Dakota being selected for the national UAS Integration Pilot Program, it’s clear this administration recognizes our state is on the leading edge of this critically important industry.”
Nielsen traveled to North Dakota at the invitation of U.S. Sen. John Hoeven, who serves on the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.
The Burgum-Sanford administration has worked to champion North Dakota’s UAS industry, supporting efforts by both the public and private sector to advance innovative technologies. In May, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao announced the selection of the North Dakota Department of Transportation as one of 10 participants in the Federal Aviation Administration’s UAS Integration Pilot Program. Last month, Burgum joined Vice President Mike Pence for a tour and roundtable at Grand Forks Air Force Base, where the vice president highlighted the important role UAS plays in our national defense. Last week, Lt. Gov. Brent Sanford visited the base to meet with leaders and received an update on UAS and counter-UAS efforts in his role as chair of the Northern Plains Unmanned Aircraft Systems Authority.
“Today’s visit by Secretary Nielsen is encouraging as UAS and counter-UAS technology plays a larger-than-ever role in our mission to stand prepared to protect our state and nation,” said Maj. Gen. Alan Dohrmann, adjutant general of the North Dakota National Guard, who attended today’s roundtable with the secretary. “We’re committed to working with state, federal and private sector partners as we find new, innovative applications for this vitally important asset.”
Nielson’s trip marks the fifth visit to North Dakota by a White House Cabinet official this year and comes just days before Secretary of Energy Rick Perry’s visit to central North Dakota next week. Burgum will join Perry Monday morning as he tours North American Coal’s Falkirk mine.