California-based start-up Archer Aviation Inc has entered into contracts worth up to $142m with the US Department of Defense (DOD) that includes the supply of up to six Midnight electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft to the USAF.
Archer has been working with the Department of the Air Force and Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) through the AFWERX Agility Prime programme, which has been designed to help the DOD understand the transformational potential of eVTOL technologies. The contracts move this partnership into a new execution phase, which will see the delivery of up to six of Archer’s Midnight eVTOL aircraft to the Air Force, as well as the sharing of flight test data and test reports, pilot training, and the development of maintenance and repair operations.
The aircraft will allow the USAF to explore the innovative capabilities provided by eVTOL aircraft and to test Archer’s claims that its aircraft “represents a potential paradigm shift in military aviation and operations.” This class of aircraft does promise to enhance agility, rapid response and operational effectiveness across a wide range of mission profiles, from personnel transport and logistics support to rescue operations, perhaps providing a safer, quieter and more cost-effective alternative to helicopters.
The USAF is not the only US military branch that is interested in Archer’s eVTOL aircraft. On August 4, Archer announced that it had showcased its Midnight eVTOL to a group of leaders from the USMC. With its vertical take-off and landing capabilities, a target payload of approximately 1,000lb and a proprietary electric powertrain system providing a very low noise profile, the Midnight obviously has military applications, and Archer said that the visit indicated a growing interest in the aircraft across the US military.