A Grand Forks technology company has received a $17 million contract for technology development from the U.S. Navy.
On Monday, Sept. 20, Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., announced that Ideal Aerosmith has been awarded the Navy contract to develop a system for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions, and mission-planning technology development.
“Ideal Aerosmith has been an important success story in our efforts to expand North Dakota’s technology sector, and today’s award leverages their past work in (unmanned aerial systems) to strengthen our nation’s ISR operations,” Hoeven said. “The technology developed under this contract will help missions across the globe to be better informed, supporting the safety and effectiveness of our servicemembers.”
Under the contract, Ideal Aerosmith will work to develop what is being called an expeditionary mission support station.
According to a news release from Hoeven, the station will include a planning suite for special operations, and a ground station for controlling multiple unmanned aircraft and sensor systems. The station will enable mission planners to access classified and non-classified information, including from ISR operations, such as those from being flown or controlled from Grand Forks Air Force Base.
The station will allow Navy operators faster access to ISR and other sensor data, when re-planning a mission based on changing weather conditions, or if new threats are encountered. Having the station will improve the effectiveness of ISR operations, and make special operations planning faster, easier and more flexible.
“The Ideal team is excited to continue this effort to provide real time situational planning to our service members,” said Greg Owens, CEO of Ideal Aerosmith. “We are so grateful to the senator and his office for their support of a strong national defense. We could not provide these solutions without the senator and his staff’s support.”
The contract is funded at $17 million, but also includes a 12-month option period, that would bring funding up to $25 million. Funding for the optional period has not yet been approved, according to a representative from Hoeven's office.
In addition to the Navy contract, Hoeven has worked to provide competitive research opportunities for North Dakota universities and businesses. In fiscal year 2021, those funding opportunities include:
$20 million for advanced coatings research, including research being undertaken by Elinor Specialty Coatings in Fargo.
$17 million for the Department of Defense Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (DEPSCOR) program, of which UND and NDSU are a part.
$7 million for developing advanced power and battery systems for spacecraft, which supports the partnership between Packet Digital and the Air Force Research Laboratory.
$5 million for augmented reality systems for Army vehicles, which UND is currently helping develop.
$2.5 million to support a new silicone solar cell research project at NDSU.