Residents of Grand Forks, N.D., met with local and state officials as well as representatives from the offices of Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) and Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) at a public scoping meeting Oct. 6 to discuss the Air Force’s plans to bring Predator and Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicles to Grand Forks Air Force Base early next decade. The Grand Forks Herald reported (requires free registration) Oct. 7 that the officials briefed on how the arrival of the UAVs around 2011 could affect area flyers and others in the region. Under the Air Force’s current plans, Predator and Global Hawk missions will begin operations from Grand Forks by September 2011. The new mission will bring about 300 personnel to the base, which will partially offset the exodus of some 1,000 to 1,100 airmen by October 2010 as a result of the base losing its KC-135 flying mission, Col. John Scorsone, vice commander of the base’s 319th Air Refueling Wing, said at the meeting.
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.