Cramer: North Dakota the ‘Go-To’ Place for UAS Industry
GRAND FORKS, ND – Congressman Kevin Cramer spoke at the UAS Summit & Expo, which took place at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks today.
Speaking on a host of issues, Cramer emphasized how North Dakota has become the gold standard for UAS innovation in the United States. “North Dakota is the ‘go-to’ place for UAS,” said Cramer. “It’s the place people in Washington look to when they need guidance.”
Cramer serves on the House Energy and Commerce Committee which has direct oversight over federal spectrum, the communications channels owned by the federal government that are needed by UAS devices to operate wirelessly.
Since joining Congress in 2013, Cramer has worked to make dedicated spectrum for UAS devices a priority. At an Energy and Commerce Communications and Technology Subcommittee Hearing earlier this year, he questioned the former head of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) about the prospects of moving forward with dedicated spectrum for the UAS industry in the near future. “The importance of that specific communications vehicle cannot be over-emphasized,” said Cramer. “We need dedicated spectrum for UAS to do the big things we want to do, such as operating beyond line of sight.”
During the speech today, Cramer also cited examples of how the Republican-led Congress is making funding for UAS a priority. In the appropriations bill that funds the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the House of Representatives provides $51 million for UAS integration, an increase of $26M above the President’s budget request. The increase is meant to help the FAA accelerate its efforts to safely integrate UAS into the National airspace and fully supports the UAS Test Sites.
The House is also prioritizing defense UAS through the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The bill fully funds the MQ-9 Reaper at $122.5 Million, which is flown out of Fargo. It also fully funds the modifications for the Global Hawks being flown out of the Grand Forks Air Force Base.
Finally, Cramer touched on how he plans to use diplomacy efforts to promote North Dakota’s UAS industry while abroad on a Presidential Delegation trip to the ‘Future Energy’ Expo 2017 in Kazakhstan. “My opportunity is I can talk to global companies and country leaders about the things you’re doing here, and the role UAS can play globally in doing things like patrolling and inspecting pipelines and transmission lines,” said Cramer. “When I can do it on the global stage, it’s all the better. But, I can only do it on the global stage when we have global leaders, that’s what we have right here in Grand Forks.”