Durant, OK – The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma (CNO) held a groundbreaking ceremony for the Emerging Aviation Technology Center (EATC) on Tuesday, October 24. The state-of-the-art facility, located near Redden, Okla. will serve as a hub for cutting-edge research, development, testing, and evaluation for crewed and uncrewed aerial system technologies.
Choctaw Nation Chief Gary Batton recognized the significance of the groundbreaking ceremony stating, “I truly believe this is going to be the gateway to the future for us, from manufacturing to all the opportunities that we desperately need here in southeastern Oklahoma, we believe this is the spark that’s going to grow our area.”
City, state and federal officials, including Oklahoma Lt. Gov. Matt Pinnell, OAC State Director of Aeronautics Grayson Ardies, and members of the Federal Aviation Administration as well as industry and regional university partners joined in celebrating the accomplishment.
“The number two industry in the state of Oklahoma today is our aerospace and aviation industry,” said Lt. Gov. Pinnell. “It’s these type of investments from our sovereigns and the state of Oklahoma that is positioning Oklahoma to truly be a top 10 state in the country when it comes to aviation and defense industry jobs.”
With a design spanning three stories and covering 6,387 square feet, the EATC will house various essential components. These include office space, telemetry rooms, workrooms for training and development, drone maintenance and mechanical repairs, conference lounge, an observation deck and more.
Fueled by Economic Development Administration (EDA) and U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA) grants, the EATC is situated on 44,000 acres of remote reservation land owned by CNO.
The EATC’s strategic location provides an ideal setting for the exploration of innovative aerial systems, supporting research and development efforts. This unique facility will enable industry experts to safely collaborate and push the boundaries of aviation technology in a controlled and secure environment.
“This groundbreaking reaffirms the Choctaw Nation’s commitment to being a leader in the development and adoption of emerging aviation technologies,” said CNO executive director of Advanced Technology Initiatives, James Grimsley. “We are excited about the opportunities this effort will foster for our region and nation, and for the many societal benefits that these new technologies will bring.”