GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- Northrop Grumman has committed to being the anchor tenant of a proposed unmanned aircraft systems technology park at Grand Forks Air Force Base, according to Gov. Jack Dalrymple and Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D.
They said Wednesday that the defense contractor, which makes the Global Hawk drones stationed at the base, has pledged to work with local and regional leaders seeking to lease unused base land.
An anchor tenant is needed for the lease agreement.
Hoeven said he expects a lease with the Air Force to be signed this year and construction to begin in spring 2014.
Northrop Grumman now employs about 40 in Grand Forks.
The area Base Realignment Impact Committee, the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks, the UND Aerospace Foundation and the Northland Aerospace Foundation in Thief River Falls, Minn., are the parties working on the lease agreement with the Air Force.
Local and state leaders are also pushing the Federal Aviation Administration to make North Dakota one of six national test sites for integrating drones with manned aircraft in the national airspace.