RapidFlight Secures $10 Million USAF AFWERX Autonomy Prime Contract

RapidFlight, a pioneering integrated designer and manufacturer of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), has been awarded a contract valued up to $10 million by the United States Department of the Air Force (DAF) AFWERX Autonomy Prime program to develop and produce a 3D-printed, autonomous, fixed-wing aircraft system, the SPX. 

The DAF created AFWERX to bring cutting-edge American ingenuity from small businesses and startups, such as RapidFlight, to address its most pressing challenges. The Autonomy Prime branch focuses on the collaborative development of autonomous technologies with industry to accelerate the transition into Air Force programs of record.

“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 manufacturing time and platform costs as compared to existing solutions,” said Michael Uffelman, Director of Growth and Customer Programs at RapidFlight. “This contract will enable the DAF to explore RapidFlight’s digital engineering process and its modern development approach to produce customizable aircraft with novel technologies critical for national security.”

“Autonomy Prime is excited about this innovative approach to unmanned autonomous aviation,” said Lt Col Josh Fehd, AFWERX Autonomy Prime Branch Chief. “It represents a promising opportunity to continue our mission of creating a rapid, affordable, and iterative autonomy testing and transition capability for the DAF.”

For the first phase of the 36-month contract, RapidFlight will design SPX UAVs for developmental testing and evaluation at the Autonomy Prime Proving Ground, a state-of-the-art facility designed to facilitate swift and iterative testing and development of autonomous UAS technologies. RapidFlight will then conduct a contractor-owned, contractor-operated (COCO) demonstration of the SPX to the United States Air Force (USAF) at RapidFlight’s flight test facility in Manassas, Va. Throughout the contract, RapidFlight will provide comprehensive operations and maintenance training for SPX to USAF operators.

The RapidFlight SPX Platform 

The SPX is a Group 2 UAS with a 12 lb. payload capacity and 150 nm range. It also features a modular payload bay to accommodate various payload types, sensors, and autonomy packages. To facilitate research and development, developers will utilize the RapidFlight Common Avionics 2.0 modular interface, which can support developmental payloads and enable autonomous flight developers to generate real-world flight test data faster and more economically than ever before.

Meanwhile, the RapidFlight proprietary AgileAviation process will drastically reduce the development lifecycle within the first phase of UAV development, the completion of which includes aircraft delivery and flight crew training, scheduled to be completed in seven months. Each SPX system comprises four airframes, a ground control station, a field kit, and a compact launcher.

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