Hoeven’s Project ULTRA Launches Effort to Use Unmanned Aircraft to Deliver Military Cargo

Senator Established, Funded Program to Advance UAS Applications for U.S. Military

GRAND FORKS, N.D. – Senator John Hoeven today announced that the Department of Defense (DoD) has tasked Project ULTRA, a new unmanned aerial systems (UAS) initiative the senator established and funded, with developing the capability to deliver military cargo using UAS. As a member of the Senate Defense Appropriations Committee, Hoeven passed legislation for Fiscal Years (FY) 2023 and 2024 to establish and fund the program, and has been working to stand-up the initiative to accelerate practical UAS applications for the military. 

  • The DoD issued its first task order, which uses $2.5 million in FY2023 funding Hoeven secured, calling for Project ULTRA to begin simulating the movement between military installations of cargo payloads of at least 25 kilograms over 100 kilometers using unmanned aircraft.
  • A subsequent task order, which is expected to be released this fall, will use funding Hoeven included in FY2024 appropriations legislation to conduct a demonstration flight between Grand Forks Air Force Base and Cavalier Space Force Station. 

“We established Project ULTRA to accelerate the military’s ability to use UAS on an everyday basis,” Hoeven said. “North Dakota’s expertise in bringing UAS into the national airspace will help us demonstrate how the military can take advantage of UAS technology. It begins with moving supplies between North Dakota bases, with more to come using funding we’ve provided in FY2024 and that we will continue to advance in future appropriations legislation.”

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.