US DoD programme to fly uncrewed aircraft in civil airspace gets underway

Project ULTRA, an uncrewed aerial systems (UAS) cargo transport initiative, has completed its first simulation.

Last month, the United States Department of Defense (DoD) issued the project’s first task order, which uses USD2.5 million in Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 funding that Senator for North Dakota John 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 kilometres using unmanned aircraft.

A task order is expected to be issued this autumn 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 collaborative research between the DoD, NASA and the Northern Plains UAS Test Site, which helped lay the foundation for this new initiative.

“Project ULTRA is underway,” said Senator Hoeven on June 27. “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.”

Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Brent Ingraham said the long-term goal of the project is safely integrating DoD’s uncrewed systems into the US national airspace.

Project ULTRA will 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. 

Initially, Project ULTRA received an open contract valued at up to USD18.25 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, and Aura Networks.

For more information

North Plains UAS Test Site

Image: A demonstration flight is expected to be conducted later this year between Grand Forks AFB and Cavalier Space Force Station. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Brody Katka)

Share this:
D-Fend advert. Click for website