USAF to Acquire Two Joby eVTOL Aircraft for Testing

Two parked Joby Aviation eVTOL aircraft
Photo Credit: Joby Aviation

Joby Aviation (NYSE:JOBY), a developer of eVTOL aircraft for commercial air taxi services, announced plans to deliver two of its innovative electric aircraft to MacDill Air Force Base (AFB) in 2025.

This delivery is part of the company’s ongoing Agility Prime contract with the U.S. Air Force’s AFWERX program.

Joby’s partnership with the DoD dates back to 2016, when it first engaged with the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU).

Through this collaboration, Joby received crucial early funding and access to test ranges. This provided invaluable expertise that significantly aided its aircraft development program.

MacDill AFB as Testing Ground

MacDill AFB, located in Tampa, Florida, is a strategic location for testing due to its diverse range of units.

These include the U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), Air Mobility Command (AMC) units, and numerous logistics-oriented units.

Personnel stationed at MacDill AFB will have the opportunity to test and train with Joby’s electric aircraft. Operations will be carried out both on base and in the surrounding area.

This delivery follows Joby’s successful placement of its first aircraft. This took place at Edwards Air Force Base in California back in September 2023.

A second aircraft is expected to join the Edwards fleet later this year. At Edwards, Joby collaborates closely with the 412th Test Wing.  

The partnership involves crucial testing and experimentation that will pave the way for future operational testing at MacDill AFB.

Agility Prime Contract

Joby’s Agility Prime contract allows for the provisioning of up to nine aircraft in total to the U.S. Air Force and other federal agencies.

Joby’s early achievement underscores its leadership in the eVTOL industry. The company secured the first-ever military airworthiness approval for its pre-production prototype aircraft back in 2020.

Real-World Testing for Diverse Applications

The deployment at MacDill AFB marks a significant step forward, enabling Joby to work directly with operational units within the Department of Defense (DoD) for the first time.

These units will be able to conduct realistic logistics missions and explore various use cases, including personnel transport, casualty evacuation, and security force support.

Initial evaluations have shown that eVTOL aircraft like Joby’s offer distinct advantages for the DoD, including low maintenance requirements, reduced operating costs, high speeds, and a minimal acoustic footprint.

Joby will also continue providing training for USAF pilots, maintainers, and other government partners on this revolutionary new category of electric aircraft.

A Joby Aviation eVTOL air taxi flies in New York City
Photo Credit: Joby Aviation

Joby CEO Comments

“The U.S. government’s early investment and vision in this critical technology is proving instrumental as we continue our journey towards commercial passenger service,” said JoeBen Bevirt, Founder and CEO of Joby.

“We are incredibly grateful to our partners at the Department of Defense for their unwavering support and continued leadership in adopting eVTOL technology.”

“We look forward to collaborating with units at MacDill Air Force Base to delve deeper into the potential use cases for our aircraft.”

Bevirt further emphasized the value of this partnership. “This work will provide Joby with invaluable early operational experience. It simultaneously offers the USAF firsthand insights into the performance of our aircraft and its potential applications.”

A Joby Aviation electric air taxi aircraft over Southern California.
Photo Credit: Joby Aviation

Joby’s Electric Air Taxi

Joby’s electric air taxi boasts the capacity to carry a pilot and four passengers at speeds of up to 200 mph.

This translates to high-speed mobility with a significantly reduced noise profile compared to helicopters and zero operating emissions.

“The Agility Prime team is thrilled to progress through this innovative acquisition approach,” said Lt Col John Tekell, Agility Prime Branch Chief.

“The arrival of these two aircraft at MacDill AFB allows the program to take the next steps in maximizing the operational potential of eVTOLs.”

Military personnel from the Air Force, Marine Corps, and Army, including pilots, ground crews, and program managers, have been engaged. This has involved ongoing flight training and mission analysis at Joby’s manufacturing and flight test facilities in Marina, California

These efforts will explore potential applications of the eVTOL aircraft in logistics, medical evacuation, and personnel transport.

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By Len Varley - Assistant Editor 5 Min Read
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