BETA’s aircraft ‘ideal asset’ for Air Force following first ACE Scenario


On the back of its first agile combat employment exercise, BETA’s Alia aircraft has emerged as an “ideal asset” for the US Air Force, according to test pilot Chris Caputo. 

Last week, the CTOL-version of Alia joined military staples including C-130Js and F-35s as the first electric aircraft to take part in Air National Guard’s agile combat employment (ACE) Scenario. The week-long military mission assessment sequence, hosted by the Savannah Combat Readiness Training Center, included more than 350 airmen from six states. Participants completed a number of exercises including relocating to bases swiftly and without a central command, operating in dispersed locations and simulating attack and casualty scenarios.

Former US Air Force Fighter Squadron Commander, Caputo said: “Alia’s flexibility, low cost, and exceptionally high utilisation rate, not to mention its interoperability with our own and existing infrastructure, make it an ideal asset to help sustain the combat capabilities of the US Air Force.”

In a simulation of the European theatre, Alia performed multiple flights each day as a cargo aircraft. BETA moved cargo from base to three surrounding locations, completing 16 sorties over the five day exercise. The aircraft acted as support for the airmen with specific missions including  tactical resupply and simulated casualty evacuation. 

Kyle Clark BETA’s CEO and founder said: “Participating in this mission was an important opportunity for us to demonstrate real-world utility and move from development testing to operationally relevant testing. To support and operate alongside more 350 active duty airmen from across the country was an incredible moment for learning and advancement as Alia moves closer and closer to in-market operations.”

According to BETA, the simulated mission provided real-world evidence that electric aviation integrates into military operations and also requires fewer resources for operation. 

Caputo added: “We were able to accept missions from an alert status and be airborne within minutes, fly to a contingency location, completely shutdown the aircraft, unload and/or load cargo, and be airborne again within 10 minutes. It was incredibly validating to see firsthand how Alia was able to accomplish meaningful missions in support of a large-scale training exercise, with very minimal assets.”

The ACE Scenario follows on from BETA’s completion of its deployment with US Department of Defence (DoD) at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. Building on its partnership with AFWERX’s Agility Prime Program formed back in 2020, the deployment came on the heels of BETA becoming the first electric aircraft developer to receive an airworthiness certificate for manned flight from the military. Alia flew through the Class Bravo airspace of Boston and New York and became the first electric aircraft to fly through the Flight Restricted Zone of Washington DC to stop at Joint Base Andrews on the way to Eglin.

The move from development operations to the operationally relevant testing experienced in the ACE Scenario, demonstrates BETA’s in-theatre utility. In that regard, the firm is continuing certification of its CTOL and VTOL versions, and late last year opened the doors to its 188,500sqft aircraft production facility in South Burlington, Vermont.