Dr. Will Roper, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology & Logistics, will officially launch the U.S. Air Force (USAF)’s Agility Prime program later this month, the service announced.
The Agility Prime program is seeking to operationalize commercial electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) vehicles (i.e., “flying cars”) for military missions, and accelerate the emerging commercial eVTOL market in the United States. The program also aims to bring together industry, investor, and government communities to establish safety and security standards while accelerating the commercialization of this revolutionary technology.
According to Dr. Roper, “now is the perfect time to make Jetson’s cars real.” He will kick off the event, a week-long immersive virtual experience.
The objective of the event is to reinforce the Air Force commitment to partnering with industry, investors, and the interagency to help ensure there is a robust domestic capability in this new aerospace sector. Besides the keynote, there will be live virtual panels for manufacturers to showcase their capabilities alongside investors and academia. The government will also provide briefings and live moderated question and answer sessions to describe the contracting, testing, airworthiness, and import/export processes.
In his comments to the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) on 11 March, Dr. Roper said, “we recently launched Agility Prime, a non-traditional program run in partnership between our PEO for Mobility and AFRL, seeking to operationalize commercial electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) vehicles (i.e., “flying cars”) for military missions, and accelerate the emerging commercial eVTOL market in the United States.”
He went on to say the program’s Innovative Capabilities Opening, “establishes the rapid contracting mechanism to explore and potentially field transformative vertical flight aircraft within three years, and the program will host a challenge series this year to select vehicles, certify safety and airworthiness, procure systems for the most promising missions, and reach operational capability by FY23.”
Capitalizing on knowledge gained from the hybrid and electric auto industry, powerful distributed electric propulsion systems are being woven together with advanced algorithms and modern airframes creating an entirely new class of aircraft. These aircraft create the potential for safe, affordable, sustainable, quiet, and runway-independent air mobility.
“The intent of the initiative is to help develop the industrial base through market stimulation in an effort to accelerate commercial and military fielding which creates additional capability for our operators while saving the taxpayer money,” said Col. Nathan Diller, Agility Prime IPT Lead.
Agility Prime, in an endeavor to create alternative defense acquisition constructs, will rely on strong collaboration between Air Force Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCMC) Mobility PEO, Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), Air Force Warfighting Integration Capability (AFWIC), and Air Force Ventures.
Technology Development and evaluation experts at AFRL will partner from the onset with AFLCMC PEO Mobility and AFWIC to efficiently transition platforms and field capability to the warfighter. Air Force Ventures will be the critical link for engagement with industry, investors, and interagency organizations.