RapidFlight Secures $10 Million USAF AFWERX Autonomy Prime Contract

by | Jun 4, 2024

MANASSAS, Va. — 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 customizable, autonomous, fixed-wing aircraft system, the SPX.

 

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.

The DAF created AFWERX to bring cutting-edge American ingenuity from small businesses and start-ups, 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 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-manufacture time and platform costs as compared to existing solutions,” said Mike 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 test 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 which features a 12 lb. payload capacity and 150 nm range, along with 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 is capable of supporting developmental payloads and enabling 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.

About RapidFlight
Based in Manassas, Virginia, RapidFlight is a design, technology, and manufacturing company capable of producing thousands of customized, low-cost, mission-ready, unmanned systems both centrally and at the tactical edge. The company’s advanced digital design and manufacturing processes, called AgileAviation, and experienced team of industry professionals are setting new standards in aircraft customization and mass manufacturing. RapidFlight addresses the dynamic challenges and stringent timelines critical to national security. For more details, visit www.rapidflight.aero.

About AFRL  
The Air Force Research Laboratory is the primary scientific research and development center for the Department of the Air Force. AFRL plays an integral role in leading the discovery, development, and integration of affordable warfighting technologies for our air, space and cyberspace force. With a workforce of more than 12,500 across nine technology areas and 40 other operations across the globe, AFRL provides a diverse portfolio of science and technology ranging from fundamental to advanced research and technology development. For more information, visit www.afresearchlab.com.

About AFWERX 
As the innovation arm of the DAF and a directorate within the Air Force Research Laboratory, AFWERX brings cutting-edge American ingenuity from small businesses and start-ups to address the most pressing challenges of the DAF. AFWERX employs approximately 370 military, civilian and contractor personnel at five hubs and sites executing an annual $1.4 billion budget. Since 2019, AFWERX has executed over 6,100 new contracts worth more than $4 billion to strengthen the U.S. defense industrial base and drive faster technology transition to operational capability. For more information, visit: www.afwerx.com.  

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