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Hoeven: CBP should partner with UAS test site near Grand Forks

Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., is pushing U.S. Customs and Border Protection to partner with the unmanned-aircraft system test site near Grand Forks, his office said Friday.

CBP already has Predator B UAS stationed at Grand Forks Air Force Base.

In his letter to CBP Commissioner Gil Kerlikowske, Hoeven noted a provision in the funding bill for CBP’s parent organization, the Department of Homeland Security, that calls for coordination between the department and the six national test sites. Grand Forks’ test site is one.

The test sites are helping integrate UAS into national airspace used by manned aircraft. Hoeven’s office said the point of CBP working with the test sites is to ensure whatever UAS technology the agency develops meets national safety standards.

Hoeven’s letter said CBP’s UAS are seeing greater demand, which will require the agency to turn to small UAS more. “I believe that the most cost-effective way for CBP to develop small UAS technology will come by taking advantage of the UAS test sites recently designated by the Federal Aviation Administration.”

The funding bill has passed the Senate Appropriations Committee, of which Hoeven is a member.