Electra awarded $85m AFWERX funding increase


Electra.aero has been awarded a Strategic Funding Increase (STRATFI) by the US Air Force’s AFWERX worth up to $85m for its eSTOL.

The funding will be awarded through a mixture of private investments, government funding and matching Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) funding. 

Designed for operations from soccer field-sized spaces, Electra say their eSTOL has helicopter-like operational flexibility with performance and operating costs better than comparable fixed-wing aircraft. It can operate in environments ranging from busy urban areas to remote landing strips, and fly missions including UAM, RAM, cargo logistics, and humanitarian assistance. Electra has received over 1,000 orders from commercial customers to date.

John S. Langford, founder and CEO of Electra, said: “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. The cost and risk advantages of eSTOL technology also make it a smart investment.”

This STRATFI award secures an investment partnership that funds rapid development, test, and evaluation of a full-scale pre-production prototype. This aircraft can be used by the Air Force to validate requirements and operational use cases. 

Ben Marchionna, Electra’s, director, Technology and Business Development, said there is a significant gap in the Joint Force to provide logistics and sustainment to widely dispersed units across large contested geographical areas at the tactical edge. “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. Small, affordable, runway-independent eSTOL aircraft could also alleviate demand on larger, few-in-number, high performance fixed wing and rotorcraft platforms in a contested logistics environment.”

This effort builds directly from Electra’s six active USAF SBIR and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Phase II and Phase III contracts. These have been directed towards developing distributed electric propulsion, blown lift aerodynamics and acoustics, precision flight controls, and hybrid-electric powertrains. 

Lieutenant Colonel John “Wasp” Tekell, Air Force Agility Prime Lead, said: “It’s vital that we ensure new advanced air mobility technologies with dual-use applications are developed and manufactured here at home in the US. Electra’s eSTOL technology has the potential to deliver valuable logistics and mobility capabilities to the Air Force. We value our partnership with Electra and look forward to supporting their continued development and future transition.”