Grand Forks County Partners with GrandSKY for Cutting-Edge UAS Development

GrandSKY Gatehouse 5.24.24Project ULTRA to Revolutionize DoD Logistics and Traffic Management with Advanced UAS Technology

by DRONELIFE Staff Writer Ian J. McNabb

Grand Forks County, located in eastern North Dakota, recently announced a new strategic partnership with GrandSKY, a local UAV-specific business development area located at Grand Forks Air Force Base. Called Project ULTRA, (UAS Logistics, Traffic, Research, and Autonomy), the new partnership aims to improve the UAS capabilities of the Department of Defense (DOD). These efforts are supported by Senator John Hoeven and aligned with the strategic goals of the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition & Sustainment (OUSD(A&S)).

Involving federal and private entities including NASA, the Air Force Research Laboratory, and MITRE, Project ULTRA aims to use UAS technology to revolutionize logistics and traffic management within the National Airspace System.

“We are very pleased for Grand Forks County to be a part of Project ULTRA,” said David Engen, Chairman, Grand Forks County Commission. “This contract builds on the investments the County has made in GrandSKY and reflects the vested interest the County has in base retention and supporting the men and women who work and serve at Grand Forks AFB. We are also pleased that the County can provide this service and support the team that will execute on this work.”

According to the press release, the project, contracted by Washington Headquarters Services, is structured under a 5-year Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (ID/IQ) contract with a maximum ceiling of $18.25 million. Task orders will be issued to define specific projects and funding details, with Task Order 01 valued at $2,480,281, set to commence on/about May 29, 2024, and conclude by September 30, 2024.

Key Objectives of Project ULTRA:

  •  Enhance airspace situational awareness and traffic management within the NAS through testing and evaluation of UTM and other traffic management systems.
  •  Develop reliable, replicable, and scalable logistical and supply delivery systems to remote military locations.
  •  Utilize Beyond Visual-Line-of-Sight (BVLOS) capabilities to create scalable service models for various DoD installations.
  • Integrate Small UAS (sUAS) capabilities to improve the quality of life for military personnel and their families.
  • Develop sustainable and scalable Counter UAS (cUAS) technologies to enhance physical security measures at military facilities and to integrate cUAS technologies with traffic management.

The project aims to utilize North Dakota’s well-developed UAS infrastructure and align the interests of multiple organizations to achieve their operational goals. The Northern Plains UAS Test Site (NPUASTS), a leader in autonomous technology solutions, will provide critical support in flight route modeling, UAS selection, and FAA coordination.

“On behalf of GrandSKY, we are grateful for this opportunity and looking forward to working with a very capable team,” said Tom Swoyer, President, GrandSKY. “We appreciate Grand Forks County stepping up and supporting this effort and we will build on our already very strong partnership with the Northern Plains Test Site. We look forward to leveraging our current capabilities to accelerate the development of UAS-based delivery solutions, counter-UAS, and ultimately integrating it all with state-of-the-art UAS traffic management.”

“We are excited to work with our partners on Project ULTRA to operationalize these critical missions for the Department of Defense,” said Trevor Woods, Executive Director, Northern Plains UAS Test Site. “Our work will lead to important improvements in logistics and traffic management, and with our team’s prior experience enabling Beyond Visual-Line-of-Sight (BVLOS), we are continuing to accelerate capabilities for industry and defense.”

More information on the GrandSky project is available here

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Miriam McNabbMiriam McNabb

Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has penned over 3,000 articles focused on the commercial drone space and is an international speaker and recognized figure in the industry.  Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
For drone industry consulting or writing, Email Miriam.


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