GRAND FORKS, N.D. — Two years after signing its lease, Northrop Grumman Corp. officially opened its new research and development facility April 21 at the Grand Sky unmanned aircraft systems business and aviation park
The $10 million-plus facility will serve as a nucleus for research and development, pilot, operator and maintainer training along with operations and mission analysis, and aircraft maintenance, the company said in a news release.
“We are delighted to officially begin operations here at Grand Sky cementing our leadership in the development and use of autonomous systems in partnership with North Dakota’s UAS community,” Janis Pamiljans, corporate vice president and president Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems, said in a statement. “The important work performed at Grand Sky will support the evolving needs of our customers while advancing research and development of our autonomous systems capabilities for today and the future.”
Northrop Grumman broke ground on the building in October 2015 with ceremony attended by political leaders, fellow UAS industry members and other state and local dignitaries. The crowd, containing representatives for Sens. John Hoeven, Heidi Heitkamp and Rep. Kevin Cramer; United States Air Force personnel, Red River Valley advocates; community leaders and several Northrop Grumman executives, reassembled April 21 to cut a ceremonial ribbon signifying the opening of the new building.
Employees have been reporting to work at the 36,000-square-foot facility since last year, but the ceremony marked it’s official opening. Northrop Grumman signed a letter of intent to be an anchor tenant at Grand Sky in November 2014 and signed its lease in April 2015. Grand Sky is a 217-acre business park under construction at Grand Forks Air Force Base. The base is home to a squadron of RQ-4 Global Hawk high-altitude, long-endurance unmanned aircraft manufactured by Northrop Grumman.
“This facility is the latest example of Northrop Grumman’s commitment to the Red River Valley,” Pamiljans said. “We’ve long been a supporter of UAS and other activities in this region including our relationships with area colleges and universities and the Northern Plains UAS Test Site.”
Northrop Grumman’s Grand Sky facility is the second major Northrop Grumman facility in North Dakota. The company has a manufacturing site in New Town, which has been in continuous operation for over 45 years, the news release said.
Grand Sky also is home to a flight training academy operated by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems that provides training curriculum for pilots and sensor operators of its Predator aircraft. A Grand Forks-based software company EdgeData also announced its intent to build a data center at the park.