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Joby Aviation Expands DOD Affiliation

USAF and USMC Partnerships Advance eVTOL

Joby Aviation, the California-based, Toyota-backed designer and builder of Electric Vertical Takeoff and Landing (eVTOL) vehicles, is expanding its existing contract with the U.S. Air Force’s Agility Prime program—an initiative the service launched in 2020 to experiment, test, and generally hasten the development of eVTOL for cross commercial and military use.

Joby’s Department of Defense (DOD) contract now includes a partnership with the U.S. Marine Corps, which will test the suitability of Joby’s eVTOL to non-combat missions such as resupply, relocation of personnel, and emergency medical response.

The whole of the U.S. military community has cast curious and covetous eyes upon eVTOL, the nimbleness, small size, and relative silence of which are eminently conducive to the stealthy, small-scale operations the Pentagon deems critical to short-term, near-peer conflicts. What’s more, eVTOL’s green hue and progressive subtext are good for the optics of an Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps currently facing record-low recruitment numbers.

Joby executive chairman Paul Sciarra states: “There’s a push within the DoD that may be surprising to many people to green the overall footprint of their operations, and replacing jet fuel-burning vehicles with electric aircraft can be a piece of that puzzle.”

Keenly aware of the importance of keeping America’s armed services at the forefront of aviation technology, the DOD—by partnering with concerns the likes of Joby Aviation—positions itself to contemporaneously shape the development of future air-vehicles, and better fathom the combat theaters and geopolitical frontiers toward which world events and questionable leadership are compelling these United States.

In point of fact, the White House held an August 2022 summit at which lawmakers; officials from NASA and the FAA; and representatives of both Joby Aviation and Archer (a competing eVTOL manufacturer) gathered to discuss the future of Advanced Air Mobility. During the event’s keynote speech, Acting FAA Administrator Billy Nolen remarked: "By 2025, we could have a total of more than 2.6-million commercial and recreational drones flying in our airspace, according to FAA forecasts. It’s critical that we have a standard set of rules for operations beyond visual line of sight. This would enable operations for things like routine package deliveries, infrastructure inspections and agriculture spraying and inspection."

From Joby’s perspective, Advanced Air Mobility’s ostensibly rosy future and the corresponding expansion of its DOD contracts adds another $75-million to the company’s $1.5-billion asset base. While that money isn’t yet in the bank, Joby’s sweetening relationship with the Pentagon grants the eVTOL maker access to first-rate testing facilities, and ups the company’s clout on both Capitol Hill and Wall Street.



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