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US armed forces put faith in Electra's eSTOL
Wednesday, 24 April 2024
Two new contracts will enable powered wind tunnel testing to advance Electra's novel aerodynamics database for use in performance analysis, simulator, and control law development, and a conceptual study for the Navy.

The U.S. Navy has awarded a contract under the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) to explore the use of Electra's electric short takeoff and landing (eSTOL) aircraft as a next-generation aviation solution for logistics in a contested environment.

In this study, Electra will work with Navy stakeholders to define specific contested logistics use cases and conduct a conceptual design study to evaluate how its hybrid-electric eSTOL aircraft can address unique Navy capability gaps. Contested logistics, a key topic of national security interest, essentially refers to the movement of military personnel or supplies to and from areas which are challenging to reach or support.

According to Ben Marchionna, Electra's Director of Technology and Innovation: “Electra's eSTOL has all the right technology-enabled capabilities to help the Navy address next-generation aviation logistics challenges. With our differentiated combination of hybrid-electric propulsion and a blown fixed wing, we can offer Pacific theater-relevant payloads and ranges, and the ability to operate from rough soccer field-sized spaces as well as many naval vessels and adjacent assets, all from day one. Beyond boilerplate tactical logistics use cases, we also see this airplane as an enabler for expeditionary power generation, mesh networking, and even as an essential node for Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2) employment. These are all gamechangers for force modernisation initiatives within the Navy and Marine Corps.”

Meanwhile, the US Army has granted Electra a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract valued at $1.9 million that funds powered wind tunnel testing of the aircraft. The award enables the U.S. Army to explore Electra's unique blown wing aircraft technology potential to broaden U.S. military capabilities, especially for fuel-efficient, resilient logistics in contested environments.

“There is a substantial benefit to employing the right-sized aircraft for a given payload-range mission,” says Marchionna. “It's a very effective method to substantially reduce fuel use – or operational energy – in theater, which really matters for enabling distributed operations in contested locations. Many of the most commonly deployed military logistics solutions in use today are flown well below their intended payload capacity. Our eSTOL aircraft can fulfill these missions while using dramatically less fuel, providing much more range, operating at significantly reduced noise levels, and utilising the same constrained operational ground footprints.”

The powered wind tunnel testing will advance Electra's novel aerodynamics database for use in performance analysis, simulator, and control law development. These wind tunnel tests, combined with ground tests and the ongoing flight test program of Electra's eSTOL technology demonstrator aircraft, will be used to help guide the design and development of Electra's production aircraft.

Contact details from our directory:
Electra.aero Airframer
NAVAIR Research/Consulting Services
Related aircraft programs:
Electra.aero eSTOL
Related directory sectors:
Design