RapidFlight Secures $10 Million USAF Contract for 3D-Printed Autonomous Drones

RF AFWERXPressPhoto 051524

RapidFlight to develop and produce the SPX, a customizable, autonomous, fixed-wing aircraft system, with the help of a $10 million contract by the DAF AFWERX Autonomy Prime Program.

Innovative AgileAviation™ Process to Be Demonstrated for National Security Applications

RapidFlight, an integrated designer and manufacturer of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), has been awarded a contract worth up to $10 million by the United States Department of the Air Force (DAF) under the AFWERX Autonomy Prime program. This contract focuses on the development and production of the SPX, a 3D-printed, autonomous, fixed-wing aircraft system.

AFWERX, an initiative by the DAF, aims to harness cutting-edge technologies from small businesses and start-ups to address critical challenges. The Autonomy Prime branch specifically collaborates with industry to advance autonomous technologies, accelerating their integration into Air Force programs.

“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 manufacture 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.”

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

In the initial phase of the 36-month contract, RapidFlight will design SPX UAVs for developmental test and evaluation at the Autonomy Prime Proving Ground. This facility is tailored for the swift and iterative testing and development of autonomous UAS technologies. Subsequently, RapidFlight will 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. Comprehensive operations and maintenance training for SPX will also be provided to USAF operators throughout the contract duration.

The RapidFlight SPX Platform

The SPX is a Group 2 UAS, featuring a 12 lb. payload capacity and 150 nm range. It includes a modular payload bay to accommodate various payload types, sensors, and autonomy packages. For research and development, the RapidFlight Common Avionics 2.0 modular interface will be employed, facilitating real-world flight test data generation more efficiently.

RapidFlight’s proprietary AgileAviation process aims to significantly reduce the development lifecycle during the first phase of UAV development. The process, which encompasses aircraft delivery and flight crew training, is scheduled for completion in seven months. Each SPX system includes four airframes, a ground control station, a field kit, and a compact launcher.

For more information about RapidFlight, visit: RapidFlight.

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Miriam McNabbMiriam McNabb

Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has penned over 3,000 articles focused on the commercial drone space and is an international speaker and recognized figure in the industry.  Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
For drone industry consulting or writing, Email Miriam.

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