Northern Plains UAS Test Site Spearheads Pioneering Unmanned Logistics, Traffic, Research, and Autonomy Program

May 24, 2024

GRAND FORKS, ND – In significant collaboration, the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition & Sustainment (OUSD) has partnered with key North Dakota entities. This project, the Unmanned Logistics, Traffic, Research, and Autonomy (Project ULTRA), supported by Senator John Hoeven, aims to enhance the Department of Defense’s (DoD) capabilities within the National Airspace System (NAS). This partnership brings together Grand Forks County, GrandSKY, the Northern Plains UAS Test Site (NPUASTS), NASA, AFRL, MITRE, and industry leaders in a multi-year effort to develop and advance critical capabilities of the Pentagon.


Project ULTRA is set to revolutionize situational awareness and traffic management within the National Airspace System (NAS), bolstering the Department of Defense’s (DoD) missions and capabilities. A cornerstone mission of Project ULTRA – ensuring reliable logistical and supply delivery to remote military locations – will establish and refine operational concepts for using Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) to maintain essential supply lines, directly enhancing the operational efficiency and readiness of our Nation’s armed forces.


Leveraging the unique ecosystem in Grand Forks, which includes the extensive capabilities of the Northern Plains UAS Test Site and North Dakota’s unique operational flight test environment, Project ULTRA capitalizes on the existing Beyond-Visual-Line-of-Sight (BVLOS) capabilities already in place and approved by the Federal Aviation Administration. In partnership with industry leaders, Project ULTRA is poised to develop a scalable service model for OUSD, with potential application across various DoD installations.


"As we embark on Project ULTRA, we are thrilled to collaborate with such a distinguished group of partners to push the boundaries of unmanned aircraft systems. This initiative will not only enhance the Department of Defense's operational capabilities but also solidify North Dakota's position as a leader in UAS innovation,” said Trevor Woods, Executive Director of the Northern Plains UAS Test Site. “Our efforts here will pave the way for groundbreaking advancements in logistics and traffic management, ultimately supporting our nation’s defense with unmatched efficiency and reliability."


“By advancing the concept of using drones to deliver supplies to our military forces in remote areas, this partnership with OUSD will significantly boost North Dakota’s well-earned reputation as the proving ground for UAS technology,” said North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum. “Our state has invested over $100 million in UAS infrastructure and capabilities to lay the groundwork for partnerships like this, and we’re grateful to the Northern Plains UAS Test Site, Sen. Hoeven, and all the project partners for their collaboration.”


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