Aerial Warfare

US Army Awards Electra Contract for Powered Wind Tunnel Test of Contested Logistics eSTOL Aircraft

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US Army Awards Electra Contract for Powered Wind Tunnel Test of Contested Logistics eSTOL Aircraft

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U.S. Army Awards Electra Contract for Powered Wind Tunnel Test of Contested Logistics eSTOL Aircraft
U.S. Army Awards Electra Contract for Powered Wind Tunnel Test of Contested Logistics eSTOL Aircraft

Electra.aero, Inc. (“Electra”), a next-gen aerospace company committed to decarbonizing aviation and opening new air transportation markets, today announced a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract from the U.S. Army valued at $1.9 million that funds powered wind tunnel testing of Electra’s hybrid-electric short takeoff and landing (eSTOL) aircraft. The award enables the U.S. Army to explore Electra’s unique blown wing aircraft technology potential to broaden U.S. military capabilities, especially for fuel-efficient, resilient logistics in contested environments. Electra’s eSTOL represents a new category of aircraft capability, combining helicopter-like operational flexibility with superior fixed wing-like performance and operating costs.

The innovative combination of blown lift and eight distributed electric motors significantly increases wing lift, enabling ultra-short takeoffs and landings from spaces as small as a soccer field, and dramatically reduced noise and fuel use compared to conventional aircraft and helicopters. Hybrid-electric power ensures ranges beyond 1,000 miles for national security applications without the need for battery charging stations. The powered wind tunnel testing will advance Electra’s novel aerodynamics database for use in performance analysis, simulator, and control law development. These wind tunnel tests, combined with ground tests and the ongoing flight test program of Electra’s eSTOL technology demonstrator aircraft, will be used to help guide the design and development of Electra’s production aircraft.

“There is a substantial benefit to employing the right-sized aircraft for a given payload-range mission,” said Ben Marchionna, Electra’s Director of Technology and Innovation. “It’s a very effective method to substantially reduce fuel use – or operational energy – in theater, which really matters for enabling distributed operations in contested locations. Many of the most commonly deployed military logistics solutions in use today are flown well below their intended payload capacity. Our eSTOL aircraft can fulfill these missions while using dramatically less fuel, providing much more range, operating at significantly reduced noise levels, and utilizing the same constrained operational ground footprints. It’s an extremely compelling capability and we’re thrilled to be working with the Army team to advance this key national security technology.”

Electra.aero, Inc. (Electra) is a next-gen aerospace company leading the way in sustainable urban and regional mobility. The company is building clean, hybrid-electric, short takeoff and landing (eSTOL) airplanes that fly people and cargo quieter, further, and more affordably. Electra’s technology delivers 2.5x the payload and 10X longer range with 70% lower operating costs than vertical takeoff alternatives with far less certification risk. Electra’s team includes some of the most respected and successful entrepreneurs and engineers in novel aircraft design, with over 40 prior aircraft successfully developed and/or certified. Its technology development is supported by Lockheed Martin Ventures, the Virginia Innovation Partnership Corporation (VIPC), Statkraft Ventures, and other private investors in addition to contracts with NASA, the U.S. Air Force, the U.S. Army, and the U.S. Navy.

U.S. Army Awards Electra Contract for Powered Wind Tunnel Test of Contested Logistics eSTOL Aircraft
Results from flight testing of Electra’s 2-seat experimental tech demonstrator aircraft, ongoing since November 2023, combined with the Army-funded powered wind tunnel test of Electra’s prototype contested logistics aircraft design, will inform the final design of Electra’s eSTOL product aircraft. (Photo by Electra)

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