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AFWERX Agility Prime – A New Era of Aerospace

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  • By Air Force Research Laboratory Public Affairs
ARLINGTON, Texas (AFRL) – AFWERX Agility Prime, launched in April 2020, is the Air Force’s collaborative initiative to work with the industrial base on testing and experimentation, accelerating development of the commercial electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft industry, enabling resilient distributed logistics and sustainable mobility.
 
Through the Department of the Air Force Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transition (STTR) programs, run by AFWERX AFVentures, the program works with the small business community to advance the eVTOL industry. 
 
Agility Prime is a Department of the Air Force program and also includes collaboration with the Army for developing transformative vertical lift capabilities. In an effort to build upon collaboration and teamwork, AFWERX Agility Prime representatives made an appearance at the Air Force versus Army football game on November 6 at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas. With fans on both sides interested in the innovative efforts of both the Army and Air Force, this game offered the perfect stage for this shared ingenuity.
 
A non-traditional program, Agility Prime uses an Initial Capabilities Opening solicitation, leveraging other transactional authorities in parallel with SBIR and STTR funding.  Agility Prime accelerates the development of prototype eVTOL aircraft through funding for early flight testing and experimentation, access to facilities such as wind tunnels or airspace, and access to uniquely capable aerospace subject matter experts of the Department of Defense. 
 
One success story to illustrate this is the creation of a new advanced urban air mobility technology simulator facility at the Springfield-Beckley Municipal Airport near Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and the Air Force Research Laboratory in Dayton, Ohio.
 
The new Springfield facility is utilized by Beta Technologies, a Vermont-based aircraft manufacturing startup, California-based Joby Aviation — an aerospace company that develops electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft — and LIFT Aircraft, a Texas firm that is also in the eVTOL space. All three have established operations at the airport, and the new facility provides additional infrastructure for the businesses to use as they collaboratively advance eVTOL and UAS technologies in the region.
 
“The Agility Prime efforts reduce the risk for technology, regulatory, and financial aspects of the eVTOL industry, increasing the pace of development, and paving the way for early operations of eVTOL aircraft for both military and commercial applications,” said Maj. John Tekell, Agility Prime lead.  Possible uses for such aircraft include disaster relief, firefighting, search and rescue, humanitarian aid efforts, medical evacuation, logistics support, and personnel movement.
 
Agility Prime is an Air Force program that seeks to develop and accelerate the commercial market for advanced air mobility aircraft and create a domestic industry and supply chain to support their development and production.
 
To get involved and learn more about AFWERX Agility Prime, visit: https://afwerx.com/agility-prime/
 
 
About AFRL
The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) 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 11,000 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: www.afresearchlab.com.
 
About AFWERX
AFWERX, a program office at the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), connects innovators across government, industry and academia. Through innovation and collaboration with our nation’s top subject-matter experts and harnessing the power of ingenuity of internal talent, by expanding technology, talent, and transition partnerships for rapid and affordable commercial and military capability.
In 2020, Fast Company ranked AFWERX #16 of Best Workplaces for Innovators, alongside brands such as Microsoft, Google and Amazon. Additional information is available at: https://www.afwerx.af.mil/
 
About Agility Prime
The Air Force recently launched Agility Prime, a non-traditional program seeking to accelerate the commercial market for advanced air mobility vehicles. Leveraging unique testing resources and revenue generating government use cases for distributed logistics and disaster response, the government plans to mitigate current commercial market and regulatory risks.
Agility Prime also aims to bring together industry, investor, and government communities to establish safety and security standards while accelerating commercialization of this revolutionary technology. Additional information is available at: https://agilityprime.com/

About USAF SBIR/STTR
The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)/ Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program was established by Congress with the goal of identifying small businesses that could provide a solution to the warfighter in a faster, more efficient manner than was presently available. This program is reducing barriers and accelerating processes, seeding the future of the U.S. Air Force through innovation and forward-thinking technology. Additional information is available at: https://www.afsbirsttr.af.mil/