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Mon, Jan 30, 2023

Electra Aero Selected for AFWERX Funding

Injection of Capital Aids Prototyping Efforts for Eventual 9-Pax USAF Variant

Electra.aero, Incorporated has been selected by the U.S. Air Force AFWERX innovation arm for a Strategic Funding Increase (STRATFI) award to foster the company's work on sustainable STOL aircraft.

The deal secures up to $85 million between private investments, government funding, and matching Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) money to be used on Electra's development of a full-scale pre-production prototype electric short takeoff and landing aircraft. The current state of the company's aircraft promises to operate quite comfortably out of sports field-sized airfields, with "helicopter-like operational flexibility".

If all goes as planned, Electra will be able to marry the performance of a highly competent helicopter with the cruise performance and operating costs of comparable fixed-wing aircraft. The eSTOL aircraft can operate with gusto, taking off from congested urban areas to remote improvised landing strips, readily lending the design to a range of missions. Electra sees a widespread market for the sustainable aircraft, with everything from on-demand urban/regional air mobility, cargo logistics, and humanitarian assistance to government work and disaster response. Electra has received over 1,000 eSTOL aircraft orders from commercial customers around the globe. 

This STRATFI award secures an investment partnership that funds the rapid development, test, and evaluation of a full-scale pre-production prototype eSTOL aircraft for eventual use by the USAF to validate requirements and operational use cases. AFWERX picked the right time to jump on the bandwagon, with Electra's upcoming flight test of their 2-seat aircraft. Eventually, the firm will develop a military variant of a 9-passenger eSTOL aircraft for USAF use.

"This STRATFI award reinforces the Air Force's commitment to dual-use eSTOL technology as a solution for national security and other government missions, and validates Electra's aircraft design and engineering work to date," said John S. Langford, Founder and CEO of Electra. "The cost and risk advantages of eSTOL technology also make it a smart investment. We are honored to be chosen for this significant award and look forward to continuing our close collaboration with the Agility Prime team."

"There is a significant gap in the Joint Force to provide logistics and sustainment to widely dispersed units across large contested geographical areas at the tactical edge," said Ben Marchionna, Electra's Director of Technology and Business Development. "Electra's eSTOL is ideally suited to serve as a small highly fuel-efficient airlifter that helps the Air Force execute its Agile Combat Employment doctrine and meet its operational energy goals to reduce aviation carbon emissions. Small, affordable, runway-independent eSTOL aircraft could also alleviate demand on larger, few-in-number, high performance fixed wing and rotorcraft platforms in a contested logistics environment. Our team is thrilled to help the Air Force solve this key national security priority."

"It's vital that we ensure new advanced air mobility technologies with dual-use applications are developed and manufactured here at home in the U.S.," said Lieutenant Colonel John "Wasp" Tekell, Air Force Agility Prime Lead. "Electra's eSTOL technology has the potential to deliver valuable logistics and mobility capabilities to the Air Force. We value our partnership with Electra and look forward to supporting their continued development and future transition."

FMI: www.electra.aero

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