Sen. John Hoeven touts R&D, drone funding in stops in Grand Forks, Fargo

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Apr. 3—GRAND FORKS — U.S. Sen. John Hoeven made stops in Fargo and Grand Forks on Wednesday, April 3 as the senator traverses the state to promote new defense spending in North Dakota.

"I think we've got a great model here and we want to keep building it," Hoeven said to a group of Grand Forks officials and defense sector contractors.

The North Dakota Republican closed out a statewide tour highlighting new federal investment in the state's military bases and defense sector, the latest of which came from the $1.2 trillion package of appropriations bills signed late last month by President Joe Biden.

Hoeven focused principally on private sector investment in Grand Forks while he was set to discuss both private investment and aircraft upgrades for Fargo's Air National Guard unit later in the day.

In Grand Forks, Hoeven said local development in fields like aerospace is helping grow North Dakota's defense industry.

"You're not only becoming a dynamic engine for the Grand Forks region, you're really becoming a catalyst for the state in terms of research development," Hoeven said during a meeting at the Grand Forks HIVE. "These new businesses that are growing and developing around the state because of the amazing work you're doing here."

Over $30 million in research and development funding is set to go toward UND and private sector businesses in the Grand Forks region, according to Hoeven's office.

That includes unmanned aerial systems projects like the Space Dynamics Laboratory's Dark Swarm project, which is working to develop drones that can operate despite hostile electronic jamming, as well as work at UND's Energy and Environmental Research Center to develop lightweight hydrogen fuel cells for the Army.

In an interview with the Herald last week,

Hoeven also highlighted the funding of the Space Development Agency's low-Earth orbit satellite mission at Grand Forks Air Force Base and the Sky Range hypersonic missile testing program at Grand Sky aviation park.

In Fargo, Hoeven drew attention to two local businesses, Elinor Coatings and Packet Digital, who will receive a combined $19.8 million in federal funds, as well as $179 million to upgrade the Air National Guard's fleet of MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aircraft, including three of the newest variant of Reapers.

"They're really the leading Guard in the country in terms of flying the Reaper mission," Hoeven said.

In past days, Hoeven also has made stops in Minot and Bismark to promote billions in funding for new intercontinental ballistic missiles and upgrades to Minot Air Force Base's fleet of B-52 nuclear bombers, as well as new funding for a Bismarck State College project to support the Sky Range program.