ARLINGTON, Texas (AFRL) – AFWERX Agility Prime, launched in April 2020, is the Air Force’s collaborative initiative to work with the industrial base on testing and experimentation, accelerating development of the commercial electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft industry, enabling resilient distributed logistics and sustainable mobility.
Through the Department of the Air Force Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transition (STTR) programs, run by AFWERX AFVentures, the program works with the small business community to advance the eVTOL industry.
Agility Prime is a Department of the Air Force program and also includes collaboration with the Army for developing transformative vertical lift capabilities. In an effort to build upon collaboration and teamwork, AFWERX Agility Prime representatives made an appearance at the Air Force versus Army football game on November 6 at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas. With fans on both sides interested in the innovative efforts of both the Army and Air Force, this game offered the perfect stage for this shared ingenuity.
A non-traditional program, Agility Prime uses an Initial Capabilities Opening solicitation, leveraging other transactional authorities in parallel with SBIR and STTR funding. Agility Prime accelerates the development of prototype eVTOL aircraft through funding for early flight testing and experimentation, access to facilities such as wind tunnels or airspace, and access to uniquely capable aerospace subject matter experts of the Department of Defense.
One success story to illustrate this is the creation of a new advanced urban air mobility technology simulator facility at the Springfield-Beckley Municipal Airport near Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and the Air Force Research Laboratory in Dayton, Ohio.
The new Springfield facility is utilized by Beta Technologies, a Vermont-based aircraft manufacturing startup, California-based Joby Aviation — an aerospace company that develops electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft — and LIFT Aircraft, a Texas firm that is also in the eVTOL space. All three have established operations at the airport, and the new facility provides additional infrastructure for the businesses to use as they collaboratively advance eVTOL and UAS technologies in the region.
“The Agility Prime efforts reduce the risk for technology, regulatory, and financial aspects of the eVTOL industry, increasing the pace of development, and paving the way for early operations of eVTOL aircraft for both military and commercial applications,” said Maj. John Tekell, Agility Prime lead. Possible uses for such aircraft include disaster relief, firefighting, search and rescue, humanitarian aid efforts, medical evacuation, logistics support, and personnel movement.
The Agility Prime program seeks to develop and accelerate the commercial market for advanced air mobility aircraft and create a domestic industry and supply chain to support their development and production.
To get involved and learn more about AFWERX Agility Prime, visit: https://afwerx.com/agility-prime/