Virginia-Based Company Funded For Further USAF Drone Research


Hampton, Virginia-based Advanced Aircraft Company (AAC) announced today (Jan. 17) it has received a $1.25 million U.S. Air Force contract to further develop its Hybrid Advanced Multirotor Unmanned Aircraft System (HAMR). The contract falls under the USAF AFWERX (shorthand for “Air Force works”) program.

AAC’s HAMR program addresses the USAF Agile Combat Employment (ACE) concept, described as “an operational approach that combines proactive and reactive strategies, all of which are executed within defined threat timelines.” The focus is on readiness, with the stated objective of enabling Air Force personnel to operate from varied locations with variable levels of support and combat capacity.

AAC’s hybrid HAMR aircraft has a distributed electric propulsion system with a computer-controlled piston engine powering an integrated generator. The generator produces up to 4,000 watts to feed six independent DC electric motors and a backup battery. According to AAC, the HAMR has a flight endurance of up to 3.5 hours, multiple redundant systems, remote in-flight engine-start capability and backup batteries.

AAC CEO Paul Allen said, “This Direct-to-Phase II contract takes us one step further to providing our warfighters with an efficient and rugged uncrewed aircraft capable of conducting military support operations in austere environments. The ‘Pivot to the Pacific’ is a massive focus for the US Department of Defense and we are proud to help our great nation in this endeavor.”

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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.


  1. Wouldn’t it have been cheaper just to attach a dozen cheap drones bought at Walmart to a Generac generator? Why are our tax dollars being wasted on these Rube Goldbergs? We are $34T in the hole and heading deeper because of this kind is wasteful spending.

  2. Hi, Kent! That’s an interesting idea! Do you have a link to the models of drones and generators that you think fit the mission objectives that the Air Force is trying to meet? I’m sure that if you do, they’d be very interested in hearing your suggestion!

    Have a great day!

  3. Actually this may be a viable application. Also $1.25M is chump change nowadays for the government.

    Distributed electric thrust is a fair design that may have some usefulness. The problem is battery storage is ineffective for many applications, aviation in particular. The use of a piston engine driving a generator makes good sense.

  4. A flight endurance of 3.5 hours doesn’t sound very impressive considering that the military has drones that can operate/loiter for much longer periods already.