National Guard agreement will let companies test drones at Camp Grafton

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DEVILS LAKE, N.D. - The skies above Camp Grafton are about to get a little more crowded. The National Guard and Northern Plains Unmanned Aircraft Systems Test Site announced a deal that will give private business space to test drone technology.

"Private companies that want to partner with Northern Plains Test Site can come and use those facilities and make use of our National Guard assets to integrate these aircrafts,” Deputy Adjutant General Robert Becklund said.

The National Guard and NP UAS TS are working together to help defense and private businesses test drone technology.

"This is something really unique to private industry that will set us apart on being able to attract other companies to N.D. to do their testing,” said Nicholas Flom, NP UAS TS executive director.

Each site has a distinct purpose.

The south unit is wide open space, where Flom says he expects security and other more advanced aircraft to be tested.

"We need to be able to test the detection of that, and then if there's actual nefarious activity going on, in the future we might need to counter some of those drones,” Flom said.

The north unit would simulate an urban environment, flying around power lines and buildings.

"There's opportunity to help each other. Our guardsmen can help the companies and vice versa, and who knows, it might lead to employment opportunities,” Becklund said.

The businesses are on the hook for the cos and the agreement is open-ended, which means there's no set end date.