Contract for Development of an Autonomous, Fixed-Wing Aircraft System

RapidFlight has won a contract to produce and develop its SPX Platform, a Group 2 UAS featuring a 12 lb. payload capacity and 150 nm range, along with a modular payload bay By Abi Wylie / 10 Jun 2024
Contract for Development of an Autonomous, Fixed-Wing Aircraft System
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RapidFlight has been awarded a contract valued up to US$10 million to develop and produce a customizable, autonomous, fixed-wing aircraft system, the SPX.

The contract comes from the United States Department of the Air Force (DAF) AFWERX Autonomy Prime program, awarded to RapidFlight as an integrated designer and manufacturer of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS).

The RapidFlight SPX Platform 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.

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 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.

Mike Uffelman, director of growth and customer programs at RapidFlight, commented; “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. 

“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, said; “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.”

Posted by Abi Wylie Connect & Contact
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