US Air Force to launch Agility Prime Program, bringing flying cars for military missions

Amid the challenges of COVID-19, the Air Force remains committed to supporting the innovation ecosystem. On the week of 27 April, Dr. Will Roper, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology & Logistics, will officially launch Agility Prime, the Air Force program to accelerate the growth of the transformative vertical flight market for subsequent government use.

US Air Force to launch Agility Prime Program bringing flying cars for military missions 01 Bell Nexus air taxi could be a candidate for further development under the US Air Force’s Agility Prime Program (Picture source: Bell)

According to Dr. Roper, “now is the perfect time to make Jetson’s cars real.” He will kick off the event, a week long immersive virtual experience.

The objective of the event is to reinforce the Air Force commitment to partnering with industry, investors, and the interagency to help ensure there is a robust domestic capability in this new aerospace sector. Besides the keynote, there will be live virtual panels for manufacturers to showcase their capabilities alongside investors and academia. The government will also provide briefings and live moderated question and answer sessions to describe the contracting, testing, airworthiness, and import/export processes.

US Air Force to launch Agility Prime Program bringing flying cars for military missions 02 The U.S. Air Force will host a digital launch of Agility Prime, its ‘flying car’ development and acquisition effort, from April 27 to May 1 (Picture source: US Air Force)

In his comments to the House Armed Services Committee on 11 March, Dr. Roper said, “we recently launched Agility Prime, a non-traditional program run in partnership between our PEO for Mobility and AFRL, seeking to operationalize commercial electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) vehicles (i.e., "flying cars") for military missions, and accelerate the emerging commercial eVTOL market in the United States.”

He went on to say the program’s Innovative Capabilities Opening, "establishes the rapid contracting mechanism to explore and potentially field transformative vertical flight aircraft within three years, and the program will host a challenge series this year to select vehicles, certify safety and airworthiness, procure systems for the most promising missions, and reach operational capability by FY23."

Capitalizing on knowledge gained from the hybrid and electric auto industry, powerful distributed electric propulsion systems are being woven together with advanced algorithms and modern airframes creating an entirely new class of aircraft. These aircraft create the potential for safe, affordable, sustainable, quiet, and runway-independent air mobility. “The intent of the initiative is to help develop the industrial base through market stimulation in an effort to accelerate commercial and military fielding which creates additional capability for our operators while saving the taxpayer money,” said Col. Nathan Diller, Agility Prime IPT Lead.

Agility Prime, in an endeavor to create alternative defense acquisition constructs, will rely on strong collaboration between AFLCMC Mobility PEO, AFRL, AFWIC, and Air Force Ventures. Technology Development and evaluation experts at AFRL will partner from the onset with AFLCMC PEO Mobility and AFWIC to efficiently transition platforms and field capability to the warfighter. Air Force Ventures will be the critical link for engagement with industry, investors, and interagency organizations.

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