Mar 19, 2024 - Business

Joby is sending more electric aircraft to the Air Force

A Joby aircraft during flight testing.

A Joby aircraft during flight testing. Photo courtesy of Joby Aviation

Joby Aviation will deliver two next-gen electric aircraft to MacDill Air Force Base in Florida in 2025 as it works to commercialize electric air taxis, the company said Tuesday.

Why it matters: Before air taxis are whisking passengers over congested cities, they'll likely be ferrying military personnel and supplies.

The big picture: The Department of Defense is acting as an important bridge to the commercial market for companies like Joby and Archer Aviation.

  • Under its AFWERX Agility Prime program, the U.S. Air Force aims to avoid spending billions of dollars to develop innovative electric aircraft on its own.

Catch up quick: Joby plans to deliver up to nine of its electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft (eVTOLs) to the Air Force under a contract worth up to $131 million.

  • It delivered its first aircraft to Edwards Air Force Base in California in September 2023, with a second expected there this year.

Driving the news: The latest aircraft are headed to MacDill AFB, home to the U.S. Special Operations Command, U.S. Central Command and units from the Air Mobility Command, along with numerous logistics-oriented units.

  • Joby will be working directly with DOD operational units for the first time, enabling them to carry out logistics missions and test use cases for operations like transporting personnel or casualties.
  • Early tests have shown that eVTOLs' low maintenance costs and quiet operation can be helpful in a variety of military situations.

What's next: Joby will continue training USAF pilots and maintenance personnel on this new category of electric aircraft.

What they're saying: "The early investment and vision by the U.S. government in this critical technology is proving foundational as we continue our path toward commercial passenger service," said Joby founder and CEO JoeBen Bevirt.

  • "This work will provide Joby with valuable early operational experience, while providing the USAF with firsthand understanding of the performance of our aircraft and its potential applications," he added.
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