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Electra.aero Wins $85 million in Funding to Develop eSTOL Aircraft Prototype for the Air Force; John Langford Quoted

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Electra.aero has received a Strategic Funding Increase award with a total value of up to $85 million between private investments, government funding and matched Small Business Innovation Research funding from the U.S. Air Force’s AFWERX innovation unit.

The award will fund the development of a full-scale, pre-production prototype electric short takeoff and landing aircraft, which is intended to be used by the service branch to validate requirements and operational use cases, Electra announced from Manassas, Virginia on Thursday.

“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 Electra Founder and CEO John Langford.

Electra’s work under the award, which finalizes an investment partnership for the rapid development, test and evaluation of the prototype, is expected to expedite the Air Force’s adoption of the company’s commercial nine-passenger eSTOL aircraft for mission use.

Built to operate in soccer field-sized spaces, the eSTOL aircraft is defined by its helicopter-like operational flexibility and cost-effectiveness. It is able to function in a multiple of environments, such as urban areas and remote landing strips, as well as in various fly missions, including those surrounding on-demand urban and regional air mobility, cargo logistics, executive transport, humanitarian assistance and disaster response, among others.

“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,” explained Ben Marchionna, director of technology and business development for Electra.

Activities under the STATFI award expand on Electra’s relationship with the AFWERX Agility Prime program, which seeks to accelerate growing dual-use markets with the use of federal resources for swift and cost-effective fielding and strengthen the nation’s technology advantage.

Electra currently holds six active Air Force SBIR and Small Business Technology Transfer Phase II and Phase III contracts, which serve as the foundation for the company’s new collaboration with the service branch.

Under these earlier awards, Electra is perfecting eSTOL’s distributed electric propulsion, blown lift aerodynamics and acoustics, precision flight controls and hybrid-electric powertrains technologies.

“It is vital that we ensure new advanced air mobility technologies with dual-use applications are developed and manufactured here at home in the U.S.,” emphasized Lt. Col. John Tekell, who leads Air Force Agility Prime.

“Electra’s eSTOL technology has the potential to deliver valuable logistics and mobility capabilities to the Air Force,” he added.