In order to reduce carbon emissions, the aviation industry is looking to transition to electric propulsion, but battery technology has so far prevented this due to weight constraints. The development of electric aircraft is being supported by the US Air Force as an accelerator via programs such as AFWERX. Currently, the development of a variety of electric aircraft, including Electric Short Takeoff and Landing (eSTOL) aircraft and eVTOL aircraft, is being supported by the Air Force.
As the military is still figuring out how to use eVTOL aircraft, their uses will extend to commercial transportation of people and cargo, disaster relief, some aspects of health care, and significantly change military and peacekeeping operations.
For years, the US military has shown interest in eVTOL technology, with companies like Joby Aviation, Beta Technologies, Elroy Air, and LIFT participating in the US Air Force AFWERX Agility Prime Program. Vertical takeoff and landing, quick battery/fuel cell swap or charging, and expected autonomous aspects are some of the benefits of eVTOL technology.
Legacy military platforms will be supplemented by eVTOL, providing a hydrocarbon-independent alternative for missions like middle-mile logistics, personnel recovery, and humanitarian aid and reducing the overall costs of various missions. Set to start flying electric “air taxis” by the U.S. Air Force early next year at Edward Air Force Base, where nine eVTOL aircraft will be provided by Joby Aviation.
Increased speed of maintenance, significant improvements in reliability and acoustics compared to conventional aircraft, and the capacity to take off immediately without requiring minutes to spin up prior to takeoff are provided by eVTOL.
The concept of “places, not bases,” by enabling a nimbler approach to staging people and material, is better supported by eVTOL. Efficient defense resupply in combat scenarios will be supported better by the use of eVTOL aircraft.
In order to achieve the optimum on-demand tempo, helicopter transport frameworks generally don’t involve enough people and aircraft. As each individual asset is attritable, there is a shift towards a larger number of lower-cost assets in the military.
The military’s shift towards larger numbers of lower-cost assets by using eVTOL technology for defense resupply and supporting the concept of “places, not bases” is being supported by Elroy Air. As each Joby electric aircraft can seat up to five people, it will be used at the base for cargo and passenger transportation.
The eVTOLs have been remotely piloted by Air Force pilots at Joby’s Marina, California, manufacturing facility, and the next step involves training the pilots to fly the eVTOLs directly once they arrive at Edwards next year.
The interest of the military in using eVTOL aircraft is for middle-mile logistics, personnel recovery, and humanitarian aid. It is hoped that the military can reduce operational and maintenance costs by using eVTOLs.
An existing AFWERX Agility Prime contract with Joby Aviation is being extended by the Air Force. Among the many eVTOLs currently being developed, the Hexa, an ultralight aircraft, has stood out as a promising aircraft.
The dependence of the military on hydrocarbons will be reduced with the use of eVTOL aircraft. A greener alternative to legacy military platforms will be provided by eVTOL aircraft. Up to nine eVTOL aircraft will be supplied to the US Air Force by Joby Aviation.
An alternative to the fuel logistics required with helicopters and conventional aircraft is provided by eVTOL. Commercial transportation of people and cargo, as well as disaster relief and peacekeeping missions, will be revolutionized by eVTOL.
A broad and deep look at eVTOLs has been taken by the US military. A new way of thinking about transportation and logistics in the military is offered by eVTOL. Eventually, an electric aircraft will become the main power source for aviation.