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ComDel Innovation-Altavian To Manufacture Unmanned Aircraft Systems In Wahpeton, North Dakota

ComDel Innovation and Altavian signed a $3.2 million agreement to manufacture unmanned aerial systems and UAS components at ComDel’s high-tech manufacturing plant in Wahpeton, North Dakota.

“This partnership represents another important step in our ongoing work to grow North Dakota’s UAS industry and to become a national hub for UAS manufacturing, research and development,” said Governor Jack Dalrymple. “The UAS industry holds great promise with boundless opportunities for future applications. As one of only six national test sites, North Dakota is well positioned to attract UAS-related investment and jobs, to lead the nation’s quest for the safe integration of the technologies and to further diversify our state economy in the process.”

“We are excited to be working with Altavian and doing our part to help round out North Dakota’s offerings to the UAS industry,” ComDel Innovation President Jim Albrecht said. “We look forward to moving the relationship forward and seeing what is in store for UAS technology in North Dakota.”

“North Dakota is presenting Altavian with the opportunity to grow in a number of ways including an opportunity to refine and scale our manufacturing process, to engage the universities and corporations with research and development and to expand our market presence,” Thomas Rambo, COO of Altavian said. “The opportunity to partner with Research North Dakota and the Northern Plains FAA UAS Test Site will strengthen the UAS industry in the state. Altavian is fully committed to thrive in North Dakota. The first aircraft coming off the line at ComDel are slated to remain in North Dakota at research institutions and North Dakota based companies.” Depending on sales, Albrecht estimates an additional 10 to 20 employees may be added to work on this project during the next two years.

The Federal Aviation Administration recently announced it would be expanding The Northern Plains Unmanned Aerial System Test Site. The expansion makes the test site in North Dakota the largest available for UAS flying anywhere in the United States.

In addition, Grand Forks Air Force Base will officially sign an Extended Use Lease Agreement on the Grand Sky aerospace technology park, a 217-acre park that will provide state-of-the-art technology incubation space for businesses developing in this emerging industry when it opens in 2017. Northrop Grumman has already signed a letter of intent to be the park's first tenant just last month.

Not only does North Dakota have unencumbered airspace, but the Grand Forks region, where the test site has been established, is also home to a thriving private UAS industry, Grand Forks Air Force Base and the University of North Dakota, which has one of the most recognized UAS undergraduate programs in the nation, Northern Dakota Department of Commerce officials said. In addition, the state has invested more than $19 million to establish a national UAS test site and to advance UAS research and development.

"We've created an environment where the UAS industry including private enterprise, public and private research organizations and educational institutions may safely, efficiently and effectively perform their research and development related to UAS," Robert Becklund, Executive Director of the Northern Plains UAS Test Site said. "The events of this week are a perfect example of the commitment and the collaboration that industry will find in our state."

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