Hoeven: Project ULTRA is Underway, Accelerating Practical UAS Applications for the Military

Senator Worked to Fund & Establish UAS Initiative, Joins Project Partners in Showcasing First Simulation of Unmanned Cargo Transportation

GRAND FORKS, N.D. – Senator John Hoeven today joined the partners of Project ULTRA, an unmanned aerial systems (UAS) initiative the senator established and funded, in showcasing the first simulation of its unmanned cargo transportation project:

  • This is the initial launching point of a broader effort Hoeven worked to establish to develop practical military applications for unmanned aircraft.
    • Last month, the Department of Defense (DoD) issued the project’s first task order, which uses $2.5 million in Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 funding Hoeven secured as a member of the Senate Defense Appropriations Committee.
    • The order directs Project ULTRA to begin simulating the movement between military installations of cargo payloads of at least 25 kilograms over 100 kilometers using unmanned aircraft.
  • The simulation comes in preparation for an expected task order to be issued this fall, using funding Hoeven included in FY2024 appropriations legislation, to conduct a demonstration flight between Grand Forks Air Force Base and Cavalier Space Force Station.
  • Project ULTRA builds upon $25 million that Hoeven secured for collaborative research between the Department of Defense, NASA and the Northern Plains UAS Test Site, which helped lay the foundation for this new initiative.

“Project ULTRA is underway,” said Senator Hoeven. “We provided the funding, helped build the partnerships and got the contract with DoD in place. Now with this first simulation, the project partners are preparing to demonstrate the practical UAS applications they’ve been tasked with, the first being moving cargo between military installations using unmanned aircraft. To be clear, this isn’t about technology development. North Dakota already leads the way in that work, with more than a decade under our belt. We designed Project ULTRA to prioritize demonstration and speed, drawing upon all of our efforts to date to provide real and timely solutions for our military installations, starting here in Grand Forks.”

Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Brent Ingraham emphasized that, “The Department of Defense recognizes the importance of this great partnership with North Dakota, and looks forward to the continuing work with Grand Forks County and Northern Plains UAS Test Site to achieve the long-term goal of safely integrating Department of Defense’s Unmanned Systems into the U.S. National Air Space.”

The goal of Project ULTRA is to go from research to practice and demonstrate a variety of UAS applications that will benefit Grand Forks Air Force Base, while also providing a template for UAS activities at installations across the country. This includes development of practical UAS applications like supply delivery, base inspections and installation security. Project ULTRA received an open contract valued at up to $18.25 million and can continue to receive funding in subsequent years. The project partners include:

  • GrandSky.
  • The Northern Plains UAS Test Site.
  • Simulyze.
  • Scientific Applications and Research Associates (SARA).
  • Modern Technology Solutions International (MTSI).
  • Perikin.
  • Aura Networks.