Archer Wins $142 Million USAF Contract For Its Midnight eVTOLs

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Electronic Vertical Takeoff and Landing (eVTOL) hopeful Archer Aviation has announced a $142 million contract with the U.S. Air Force to develop a military version of its Midnight “air taxi” aircraft. According to Reuters, Archer stock catapulted by 33 percent after the announcement. California-based Archer successfully completed final assembly of the first Midnight eVTOL in May. Plans call for the aircraft to carry a pilot and four passengers up to 100 miles.

According to the Reuters report, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) has been working with Archer since 2021 as part of the USAF AFWERX Agility Prime program “to assess how eVTOL technologies might fit into emerging platforms for the Air Force and other U.S. military branches.”

The Air Force defines the AFWERX mission as: “to accelerate agile and affordable capability transitions by teaming innovative technology developers with Airman and Guardian talent.” The program is described as a technology directorate from the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) and the innovation arm of the Air Force. It is meant to stimulate strategic “teaming” among elements of academia, industry and the investment community, as well as interagency and international partners.

According to reports, Archer took the wraps off its Midnight air vehicle last November. Payload is expected to be more than 1,000 pounds, with back-to-back 20-mile trips planned. Ten minutes’ charging time is anticipated between trips. Archer said it expects FAA certification in 2024, with hopes for an entry into commercial service the following year. At a cruise altitude of 2,000 feet above the surface, the Midnight’s noise signature is expected to be 45 dBA, said to be “1,000 times quieter than a helicopter.”

Col. Tom Meagher, the lead for AFWERX Agility Prime programs, said in a statement, “Our contracts with Archer Aviation provide 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 U.S. military.”

Archer CEO Adam Goldstein in a statement, “It’s clear that the development and commercialization of eVTOL technology continues to remain a national priority.” He added that the $142 million contract also includes pilot training and a maintenance program, and that the six aircraft to be delivered to the USAF will be used for logistics and rescue, not combat missions.

Mark Phelps
Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.

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