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Will Roper to Launch Air Force Program Aimed at Driving Vertical Flight Market

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Will Roper
Will Roper

Will Roper, acquisition chief at the U.S. Air Force and a 2020 Wash100 Award recipient, is set to formally introduce a program that aims to drive the market for vertical flight aircraft platforms for potential government use.

The kickoff event for USAF’s Agility Prime program will take place in the week of April 27 as the military service looks to partner with companies, agencies and investors to sustain domestic aerospace capability, the branch said Tuesday.

USAF will entertain questions and give participants an opportunity to demonstrate technologies to live virtual panels during the event.

Roper told House Armed Services Committee members at a March 11 meeting that Agility Prime will work as a nontraditional program aimed at operationalizing electric vertical-takeoff-and-landing vehicles in the military and helping commercial eVTOL technology developers grow.

He added that the branch seeks to establish a contracting mechanism to accelerate development and fielding of “transformative” vertical aircraft within a three-year period. USAF also plans to conduct a series of challenges to evaluate vehicle proposals and buy systems for significant missions through the program.

The service aims to operate such a platform by fiscal year 2023.

Air Force Ventures will work to engage public and private sector entities in the initiative. The Air Force Research Laboratory will collaborate with the service’s investment fund, Life Cycle Management Center and Warfighting Integrating Capability to manage technology transition efforts.