Archer Aviation’s partnership with the United States Air Force (USAF) has taken a significant step forward as the two parties announce an investment worth $142 million.
Archer, a company developing electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, and the USAF have been working together since 2021 on a series of projects. However, the new deal represents a deep strengthening of their ties.
As part of the $142 million investment, the USAF will purchase up to six Archer’s Midnight aircraft.
The agreement also includes the sharing of additional flight test data and certification related test reports, pilot training, and the development of maintenance and repair operations.
“The new contracts signal the US military’s recognition of the transformative potential Archer’s innovative eVTOL aircraft brings to our country’s Armed Forces,” Archer said in a statement on July 31, 2023. “As a result of these contracts, Archer will create and provide innovative capabilities that will strengthen the national defense of the United States of America.”
Archer has been working with the USAF on helping the AFWERX Agility Prime program assess the transformational potential of eVTOL technologies on the vertical flight market and applications for the Department of Defense.
According to Archer, the Midnight aircraft is expected to provide a much safer and quieter alternative to helicopters while being more cost-effective for the US military to transport, operate and maintain in the field.
“This historic agreement reflects the steadfast commitment by our Armed Forces to embrace the cutting-edge technology our eVTOL aircraft offer,” said Adam Goldstein, Archer’s founder and CEO. “It’s clear that the development and commercialization of eVTOL technology continues to remain a national priority. We look forward to working closely with the US Department of Defense and the US Air Force to integrate Midnight into their operational fleet with a focus on transport, logistics and rescue operations.”
This announcement comes on the heels of Archer confirming the formation of the company’s Government Services Advisory Board in May 2023.
The goal of the advisory board is to allow Archer to more fully engage with the US government and public safety agencies to explore opportunities to commercialize its eVTOL aircraft.
“It is our mission to ensure the US continues to lead the world in developing and deploying emerging aerospace technology,” said Colonel Tom Meagher, the lead for AFWERX Agility Prime programs. “eVTOL aircraft represent the cusp of the third revolution in aerospace, and these aircraft and their descendants will drive advances in capabilities and efficiency. Our contracts with Archer Aviation provide the US Department of Defense and US Air Force the opportunity to play a role in ensuring from the onset, and as the technology evolves, that we unlock the many benefits these aircraft have to offer the US military.”
Archer plans to launch its first commercial eVTOL flights in 2024. Midnight will be capable of flying distances of up to 100 miles but is optimized to conduct back-to-back flights of 20 miles, with 12 minutes of charge time in between.
Its target payload is approximately 1,000 pounds (450 kilograms) and is powered by six independent battery packs, each supporting a pair of electric engines.