Archer Aviation Inc., a provider of electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, has further strengthened its position as a force in the aviation industry by announcing the expansion of its partnership with the US Department of Defense (DoD).

The recent signing of new contracts with the US Air Force, valued at up to $142m, represents a landmark investment in eVTOL technology by the US military.

Archer has been working hand in hand with the DoD since 2021 through the Air Force’s AFWERX program. The primary focus of this collaboration has been on the AFWERX Agility Prime program, aimed at assessing the potential of the vertical flight market and eVTOL technologies for military applications.

Attributes that catch the attention

This new execution phase of the partnership entails the delivery of up to six of Archer’s Midnight eVTOL aircraft to the US Air Force. These aircraft are earmarked for roles in personnel transport, logistics support, rescue operations, and more, promising to enhance the Armed Forces’ operational capabilities across mission profiles.

Launched in November 2022, Archer’s Midnight has various features, including vertical takeoff and landing capabilities, a target payload of approximately 1,000lb, a proprietary electric powertrain system, and a low noise profile. Such attributes have caught the attention of the DoD, recognizing the potential paradigm shift they represent in military aviation and operations.

James Marques, aerospace, defence, & security analyst at GlobalData, claimed: “I think one thing Archer approaches with a different mindset to some other eVTOL firms is safety and redundancy.

There are six separate battery back, four flight control computers, and redundant inertial navigation. It is designed to survive the loss of these systems in an emergency. USAF is probably interested in that kind of design experience, very useful in a military context.”

With the advent of Midnight aircraft, the US military is presented with a safer and quieter alternative to traditional helicopters. Moreover, the eVTOL technology is expected to be more cost-effective to transport, operate, and maintain in the field, adding further value to the nation’s defence efforts.

A prospective partnership

Adam Goldstein, Founder and CEO of Archer Aviation, expressed enthusiasm for this historic agreement, stating, “It’s clear that the development and commercialisation of eVTOL technology continues to remain a national priority.

We look forward to working closely with the US Department of Defense and the US Air Force to integrate Midnight into their operational fleet with a focus on transport, logistics, and rescue operations.”

Colonel Tom Meagher, the lead for AFWERX Agility Prime programmes, emphasized the significance of eVTOL aircraft. “Our contracts with Archer Aviation provide the US Department of Defense and US Air Force 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 US military.”

The announcement comes on the heels of Archer’s formation of the Government Services Advisory Board in May. This advisory board aims to strengthen Archer’s engagement with the US government and public safety agencies, exploring opportunities to commercialise its eVTOL aircraft.

The prospects for this partnership extend beyond the US Air Force, as other military branches can leverage these contracts as a platform for additional projects. Such endeavours could further augment the total value of Archer’s partnership with the DoD.