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    HomeMilitaryVirginia's RapidFlight Soars with $10M USAF Contract for Innovative Drone Technology

    Virginia’s RapidFlight Soars with $10M USAF Contract for Innovative Drone Technology

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    Virginia-based aerospace startup RapidFlight has clinched a $10 million contract to manufacture a fixed-wing autonomous aircraft for the US Air Force.

    This three-year agreement bolsters the AFWERX Autonomy Prime initiative, aimed at fostering collaboration with small enterprises to devise innovative solutions tackling various challenges in military operations.

    The initial phase of the contract spans seven months, focusing on finalizing the design of an unmanned aerial system for developmental testing and evaluation at Duke Field’s Autonomy Prime proving ground in Florida.

    With smoke from the Lake Arrowhead area fires streaming in the background, NASA’s Ikhana unmanned aircraft heads out on a Southern California wildfires imaging mission.

    Subsequently, a contractor-operated demonstration will be conducted at RapidFlight’s flight test center in Manassas, Virginia.

    Throughout the contract duration, RapidFlight will provide drone operations and maintenance training to US Air Force operators participating in the program.

    RapidFlight announced that the project will harness the company’s exclusive SPX autonomous vehicle, renowned for its modular bay adaptable to various payload types and sensors.

    Capable of carrying payloads weighing up to 12 pounds (5 kilograms) and covering a range of up to 150 nautical miles (280 kilometers), the drone showcases versatility and robust performance.

    Each system slated for deployment in the project will consist of four airframe components, a ground control station, a compact launcher, and a field kit, ensuring comprehensive and efficient operational capability.

    The aircraft will be equipped with RapidFlight’s Common Avionics 2.0 modular interface, aimed at expediting flight data generation and developmental payload integration during test sessions, ensuring swifter and more cost-effective operations.

    Additionally, the company intends to implement its AgileAviation methodology to streamline development life cycles within the initial phase of the contract.

    Mike Uffelman, Director of Growth and Customer Programs at RapidFlight, highlighted the collaboration with the AFWERX Autonomy Prime Program.

    This collaboration positions RapidFlight as a frontrunner in delivering mission-tailored autonomous aircraft with significantly reduced design-to-manufacture time and platform costs compared to existing solutions.

    “Our collaboration with the AFWERX Autonomy Prime Program positions RapidFlight as a leading innovator for delivering mission-customized, autonomous aircraft with up to 80% reduced design-to-manufacture time and platform costs as compared to existing solutions,” he said.

    He emphasized that this contract will serve as an opportunity to explore RapidFlight’s digital engineering process and modern development approach, aimed at producing customizable aircraft integrated with novel technologies crucial for national security.

    “This contract will … explore RapidFlight’s digital engineering process and its modern development approach to produce customizable aircraft with novel technologies critical for national security,” he highlighted.

    Relevant articles:
    Virginia Startup to Develop Fixed-Wing Drone for US Air Force, The Defense Post
    RapidFlight Secures $10 Million USAF AFWERX Autonomy Prime Contract, PR Newswire
    Leidos Announces Key Milestone for America’s ‘Mayhem’ Hypersonic Missile, The Defense Post
    Virginia Economic Development Partnership, Virginia Economic Development Partnership

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