Grand Forks Air Force Base home to drones, similar to one downed by Iranian missile

Published: Jun. 20, 2019 at 6:23 PM CDT
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The Grand Forks Air Force Base isn't saying much regarding the downing of a military drone. The U.S. Central Command confirms the unmanned drone was shot down by an Iranian missile, and says the attack was unprovoked, adding the drone was in international air space. Meanwhile, Iran says the aircraft was flying over Iran.

The drone was an RQ-4 Global Hawk—similar to the ones stationed at the Grand Forks facility. We visited the air base to find out more.

Some reports suggest the drone shot down was an older one—the Grand Forks base is home to newer versions of the RQ-4, which is a remotely piloted aircraft.

The Grand Forks Air Force Base tells us they can't give us the exact number of Global Hawks on the base, but they do have enough to support global operations 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Back in 2011, the Grand Forks base was looking for a new mission to contribute to the fight—and North Dakota was primed for unmanned aerial systems: that is, drones, to fly remotely. The base alerted the Air Force, saying they had the open space—and the capability for the RQ-4 Global Hawk drones to fly on in.

It was big business for Grand Forks—and the state of North Dakota. In 2018, having an economic impact of $245 million.

Starting next week, we’re told the Grand Forks Air Force Base will have administrative control over the Air Force's Global Hawk inventory.