Proposed corn mill offers opportunities for sophisticated military espionage
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SAN DIEGO, Sept. 20, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI), a leading designer and manufacturer of unmanned aerial systems for U.S. and allied forces around the world, is firmly opposed a new Chinese agricultural investment near Grand Forks Air Force Base, ND, and is urging the US government to halt the project.
A Chinese agribusiness conglomerate plans to build a large-scale corn milling facility on 370 acres in Grand Forks, just 15 miles from the air force base and many established US defense industries. Grand Forks welcomes many US defense technology companies, including GA-ASI, which uses local airspace to conduct significant testing and evaluation efforts related to unmanned aerial vehicles, radar systems and other advanced military technologies. The proposed agricultural project presents a major vulnerability to maintaining the necessary secrecy and integrity of classified weapons, communications frequencies, satellite links and many other technologies critical to global security.
“Chinese business efforts are inextricably linked to Chinese government efforts,” said GA-ASI spokesman C. Mark Brinkley. “We cannot ignore the opportunity for sophisticated military espionage to band together within a Chinese corporation of such scope and scale. Given the proximity to critical national airspace and sensitive military operations on and around Grand Forks Air Force Base, American leaders should be very, very concerned. I know it’s me So we must act.
The Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States or some other similar agency needs to stop the corn mill project, Brinkley said, given the safety risks it poses.
The Chinese investment project also poses problems for America’s allies. GA-ASI has operated in the Grand Forks area for more than a decade and as of 2018 has expanded its flight test and training center to more than 20 acres to serve as a home for training UAS pilots and maintainers on all systems deployed worldwide to serve. including in the militaries of international allies. UAS crews from the UK Royal Air Force will begin training there later this year, learning to pilot and maintain the UK’s new advanced MQ-9B Protector aircraft built by GA-ASI.
GA-ASI recognizes that the proposed corn mill could be on American soil and operated by many US citizens, but its foreign ownership and control means there is no easy way to ensure that the facility will not one day be taken over by Electronic surveillance or surveillance is permeated by other activities that pose security risks to American and allied unmanned aerial vehicles.
“We understand the significant economic opportunity that this proposed agricultural project represents for the people of Grand Forks and the state of North Dakota,” said Brinkley. “But no level of assurance from the company can ever offset the tremendous risk that is being introduced. The strategic national security value of Grand Forks cannot be overstated, and as such we urge the U.S. government to act quickly to protect this asset.”
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI), a subsidiary of General Atomics, is a leading designer and manufacturer of proven, reliable remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) systems, radars, and electro-optical and related mission systems, including the Predator® RPA series and the Lynx® multimode radar. With more than seven million flight hours, GA-ASI offers durable, mission-ready aircraft with integrated sensor and datalink systems necessary for sustained flight that enables situational awareness and rapid attack. The company also manufactures a variety of ground control stations and sensor control/image analysis software, provides pilot training and support services, and develops metamaterial antennas. Visit www.ga-asi.com for more information.
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