Xwing completes Agile Combat Employment exercise with US Air Force


Xwing’s first successful participation in an Agile Combat Employment exercise demonstrates the future of military critical cargo delivery, according to co-founder Maxime Gariel.

The week-long exercise, aka AGILE FLAG 24-1, saw Xwing transport mission-critical cargo with daily autonomous missions, accumulating over 2,800 autonomous flight miles to military bases and civilian airports, including March Air Reserve Base, Vandenberg Space Force Base and Fresno Yosemite International Airport.

“We saw first-hand during AGILE FLAG that the use of Xwing’s autonomous aircraft eliminated the need to fly a larger aircraft such as a C-130 to deliver critical cargo to the warfighter on short notice,” said Gariel, who also serves as president and chief technology officer. “When you fly missions autonomously, you operate with the speed and efficiency required for dispersed ACE operations, delivering cargo and personnel at a much lower cost and risk.”

AGILE FLAG 24-1, which ran from January 22 to February 4, was what is known as a total force exercise, bringing together Air Combat Command (ACC) and Air Mobility Command (AMC) at military bases and public airports throughout California. 

Xwing’s involvement was part of a newly awarded Phase III Small Business Innovation Research contract. To participate the US Air Force awarded Xwing a Military Flight Release (MFR) to operate their autonomous aircraft for Public Aircraft Operations (PAO). These approvals allowed Xwing to deliver official cargo with autonomous taxis, takeoffs and landings at military and civilian installations.

Kate Brown AFWERX Autonomy Prime deputy branch chief said: “Achieving an Air Force Military Flight Release certification is a momentous milestone removing the barrier to transition and unlocking key testing and experimentation opportunities. AGILE FLAG was an opportunity to showcase autonomous light cargo logistics and demonstrate operational relevance and increased technical readiness.”

Delivering flexible logistics in often unsurveyed locations with little or no ground support is at the core of Agile Combat Employment exercises. In that regard, the exercise assigned Xwing cargo missions based on real-time logistics needs. This included delivery of sensitive weather equipment and other critical cargo to various locations throughout the week-long event.

The exercise required Xwing to navigate through the busy Los Angeles basin, where the autonomous aircraft integrated with heavy traffic at March ARB and complied with Air Traffic Control (ATC) instructions.

Craig Milliard, Xwing Flight Test Manager, who remotely supervised the flights from a ground control station at Sacramento McClellan Airport, concluded: “Our technology has proven effective over hundreds of successful autonomous flights. This exercise gave us the opportunity to stretch the operational envelope into new environments, day and night, with real-world cargo proving that we can effectively complete Air Force mission objectives.”