AFWERX officials to discuss advanced air mobility, small business support at EAA Airventure 2024

  • Published
  • By Tim Tresslar
  • AFWERX

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio (AFRL) – AFWERX, the Department of the Air Force’s innovation arm and a directorate of the Air Force Research Laboratory, will have a booth at EAA Airventure Oshkosh 2024 July 22-28 at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. 

During Airventure, the world’s largest fly-in airshow, AFWERX leaders will speak about ongoing efforts to help drive the development and fielding of electric aircraft. They also will detail the organization’s ongoing efforts to help provide a pipeline of disruptive military and dual-use technologies to the DAF. 

The U.S. is in a global competition for leadership in critical technologies. This includes electric and hybrid aircraft – a category of low-emission, runway-independent aircraft – and the industries supporting them. This aircraft category encompasses electric and hybrid propulsion systems, autonomy and advanced manufacturing.   

Launched in 2020, AFWERX Agility Prime has focused on accelerating emerging commercial markets by leveraging government resources for rapid and affordable fielding, benefiting both the commercial industrial base and U.S. military capabilities. 

During the last year, the advanced air mobility (AAM) sector hit several major milestones. AFWERX Agility Prime partner companies have reached flight goals, inked testing agreements with the DAF, and announced plans for major capital projects. In 2025, these partner companies plan on scaling up production of their aircraft to sell. 

Hank Griffiths, AFWERX chief of test and airworthiness, will discuss “Innovating AAM With AFWERX” from 8:30 to 9:45 a.m. CDT July 23, at Forum Stage 1. He will focus on the current state of AAM and the role AFWERX Agility Prime and the DAF will play in this emerging industry going forward.

Since its inception, AFWERX has provided the AAM sector with access to funding, technical expertise and testing resources while also cooperating with other government agencies to ensure their safe use. This multi-agency effort included AFWERX and the Federal Aviation Administration agreeing in October 2023 to share flight-test data to accelerate the safe integration of AAM platforms into the National Airspace System. 

“It’s an exciting moment for AAM,” Griffiths said. “The U.S. has worked hard to position itself as a global leader over its strategic competitors in this dual-use technology. We are proud to be part of an ongoing, whole-of-government effort to support small businesses and academia in driving the continuing advancement of these aircraft and related technology.” 

Agility Prime was the first of several subsequent Prime programs. The Prime division expands technology transition pathways to accelerate market emergence of new technologies through defense resources for rapid and cost-effective fielding.  

Focusing on the horizon, Prime identifies innovations with significant military and commercial potential, ensuring that America remains at the forefront of technological advances and intellectual capital. 

Karen Roth, deputy director of AFWERX, will talk about “AFWERX & Empowering Small Business” from 1:00 – 2:15 p.m. CDT  July 25, at Forum Stage 1. During her talk, she will share success stories of the organization’s industry engagement through its Prime, Spark and Ventures divisions. 

“Small businesses are the backbone of the U.S. economy,” Roth said. “The private sector accounts for 80 percent of disruptive technologies. As the DAF’s innovation arm, our mission is to rapidly acquire new innovations for the DOD. I look forward to sharing how AFWERX can help empower small businesses, whether they’re refining their initial concept or developing a prototype of their military specific or dual-use technology.” 

The Ventures division attracts technology, talent, and capital from the nation’s leading investors, companies, universities, and research institutions.  This approach brings private investment to bear on military capabilities as a robust force multiplier.  Ventures identifies scalable small businesses poised for success in both military and commercial markets. It also ensures our nation’s industrial base is not influenced by foreign investment by adversary nations.  

The Spark division marshals capabilities, cultivates talent, and connects Airmen and Guardians. Spark leverages strategic relationships with defense end-users, acquisition communities, and the fast paced commercial tech sector to direct capabilities to the warfighter, thereby nurturing multi-capable combat Airmen and Guardians essential for maintaining our nation’s competitive edge.  

The AFWERX booth, No. 439, will feature electric and hybrid aircraft simulators from Agility Prime partners as well as virtual reality simulators. 

Also during EAA Airventure, the Air Force Materiel Command will showcase the research, test and development functions through activities and displays. The command is made up of six component units, including AFRL, AFWERX’s parent organization. 

Airventure organizers say the event draws 10,000 aircraft and 500,000 visitors each year. The annual event at Wittman Regional Airport features daily airshows, learning centers, evening programs and flight experiences.  

About AFRL
The Air Force Research Laboratory is the primary scientific research and development center for the Department of the Air Force. AFRL plays an integral role in leading the discovery, development, and integration of affordable warfighting technologies for our air, space and cyberspace force. With a workforce of more than 12,500 across nine technology areas and 40 other operations across the globe, AFRL provides a diverse portfolio of science and technology ranging from fundamental to advanced research and technology development. For more information, visit afresearchlab.com.   

About AFWERX
As the innovation arm of the DAF and a directorate within the Air Force Research Laboratory, AFWERX brings cutting-edge American ingenuity from small businesses and start-ups to address the most pressing challenges of the DAF. AFWERX employs approximately 370 military, civilian and contractor personnel at five hubs and sites executing an annual $1.4 billion budget. Since 2019, AFWERX has executed over 6,100 new contracts worth more than $4 billion to strengthen the U.S. defense industrial base and drive faster technology transition to operational capability. For more information, visit: afwerx.com.