L-3 Link Simulation and Training and the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks have agreed to establish the first non-military educational institution in the US providing initial qualification and continuation training for MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper operators. The memorandum of understanding says the facility will open its doors in March 2011, according to the company’s June 2 release. The training center will be located both on UND’s campus and at Grand Forks Air Force Base, where the US Customs and Border Protection agency already operates an unarmed MQ-9s to patrol the US-Canada border. The base is slated to receive the first of its Air Force RQ-4 Global Hawk Block 40 reconnaissance aircraft in mid-2011, A1C Rachel Martinez, spokeswoman for Grand Forks’ 319th Air Refueling Wing, confirmed to the Daily Report Friday. (See CBP UAS overview.)
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.