GRAND FORKS, N.D., Sept. 23 (UPI) -- General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. says it is to open a training academy on Grand Forks Air Base in North Dakota for operators of its remotely piloted aircraft.
A 10-year lease for its site has been signed and ground breaking is expected soon, with operations beginning next year.
"The mission of the GA-ASI Training Academy is to increase the overall capacity for flight crew training on our aircraft systems," said Linden P. Blue, GA-ASI chief executive officer. "The Training Academy will complement our customers' organic training capabilities and fill the growing need across our RPA enterprise to address the pilot shortage."
GA-ASI manufactures unmanned aerial systems such as the Predator, the Reaper and Grey Eagle as well as radars, electro-optic and other related mission systems.
Its training school will operate multiple courses throughout the year using U.S. government-approved curricula. As many as 60 flight crews of remotely piloted aircraft are expected to receive instruction annually.
Grand Forks Air Force Base presently serves as the base of operations for U.S. Department of Homeland Security/Customs and Border Protection Predator B aircraft and MQ-1 Predator A aircraft operated by the North Dakota Air National Guard.
GA-ASI, which operates similar training centers in California, said it expects an intake of students from U.S. Foreign Military Sales customers to receive training at the North Dakota facility when it opens.