Otto Aviation Selected by the Operational Energy Capability Improvement Fund (OECIF) for Energy Web Aircraft (EWA) program


Otto Aviation Selected by the Operational Energy Capability Improvement Fund (OECIF) for Energy Web Aircraft (EWA) program

  • Otto’s success with laminar flow technology led to the collaboration with OECIF and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)
  • The EWA program is DARPA-led; Otto to develop the EWA demonstrator aircraft for a laminar-flow, laser-powered UAV
  • Transforming power delivery to energy-starved environments, EWA will act as a node in a wireless power transfer network

Yorba Linda, CA – March 25, 2024, Otto Aviation has been awarded a joint collaboration between Operation Energy Capability Improvement Fund (OECIF) and DARPA to work on next-generation contested logistics concepts to develop a demonstrator aircraft, a critical step on the path to a wireless energy network. The EWA demonstrator will help validate aerodynamic and sizing considerations for future optical energy relay and prove the feasibility of using a high-altitude, long-endurance UAV as an energy web node.

The EWA program is complementary to DARPA’s POWER program, which seeks to refine the requirements for optical power relays. The POWER program aims to transform the delivery of power to energy-starved environments, such as areas where electrical infrastructure is lacking or has been damaged by a natural or man-made disaster.

“Our collaboration with DoD Partners underscores our leadership in laminar-flow research and development, which is critical to the success of the wireless energy network,” said Otto Aviation CEO Paul Touw. “This UAV aircraft, which harnesses Otto’s leading-edge aerodynamic design, will serve as a prototype UAV for superior energy transmission. Otto’s proven success of our laminar flow technology aircraft is an enabler for delivering on DoD requirements.

The POWER program seeks to employ lasers for beaming power over vast distances at high altitudes, drastically reducing the need for onboard energy storage and enabling vehicles or platforms to potentially achieve unlimited endurance.
“Otto Aviation will design an energy web UAV capable of accepting and transmitting this energy beam with unprecedented efficiency, thanks to the aircraft’s large fuselage surface area and laminar flow design,” said Touw.

In Phase 1 valued at $1.9 million, Otto, as the prime contractor, will collaborate with San Clemente, CA-based Swift Engineering, known for its extensive experience in high-altitude UAV flight and telemetry, to construct and test a scaled demonstrator aircraft. This demonstrator will validate cruise performance and collect aero performance data at altitude. A successful initial phase will pave the way to future phases and additional funding to demonstrate broader aerodynamic performance and integration of power-beaming relay systems. A future program would fuse the work Otto is performing on aircraft design with the lessons learned from POWER.

“The program’s scaled approach allows us to cost-efficiently and systematically validate technology and establish that wireless energy is indeed feasible,” said Otto Aviation President and COO, Scott Drennan. “This venture bolsters Otto’s reputation for aerodynamic design excellence and Swift Engineering’s UAV capabilities as they forge a new path together in aerial energy management and create a UAV that could shape the future of sustained high-altitude operations.”

About Otto
Otto is creating ultra-efficient, sustainable flight through paradigm-shifting technologies. Otto distinguishes itself as an aerospace trailblazer through its selection to participate in the OECIF-resourced, DARPA-led Energy Web Aircraft program, showcasing a strong commitment to innovation.

OECIF is the DoD’s premier joint operational energy investment program. The mission of the OECIF program is to guide operational energy innovation via targeted S&T investments. As an Advanced Technology Development fund, OECIF focuses on technology integration and demonstrations for first-of-a-kind innovations. OECIF operates in collaboration with the Services and is structured to leverage, not replicate, the existing infrastructure and organization in the Services. Each Services’ operation energy lead works collectively with OECIF to develop, select, and oversee the OECIF investments.

Jessica Pruss – email: [email protected] cell: 970-646-1369
This press release may contain forward-looking statements about future projects and prospects. These are based on current expectations and are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause actual future results to differ materially from those expressed or implied by such statements.

# # #


  1. You must be kidding. April 1st has passed. Is there anywhere on the planet where a petroleum fueled generator can’t be in place in a matter of days generating stable, secure power for pennies per Kilowatt hour.