US Air Force innovation arm AFWERX and electric aerospace company BETA Technologies have conducted a ground-breaking ceremony for an air mobility electric charging station at Duke Field, Florida.
The hub will serve as a Level 3 direct current electric vehicle fast charging station for the air force’s Agility Prime program, an effort seeking new electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft for military applications.
The facility’s construction will be completed this October.
According to the US Air Force, the station’s 480-volt, 400-ampere charging capability leverages the installation’s upgraded power grid and a 1,000-kilowatt volt-amp transformer.
“Level 1 is a typical home power outlet and would take days to charge an eVTOL. Level 2 is a dryer or air conditioning outlet and would take hours. Level 3 is a supercharger and only takes minutes. You can power roughly 250 homes simultaneously with the amount of power one charger is using,” 413th Flight Test Squadron Flight Commander Maj. Riley Livermore explained.
Agility Prime Program
Ten miles (16 kilometers) north of Eglin AFB, Duke Field was selected as the test field of Agility Prime’s eVTOL solutions.
AFWERX and BETA work with the 413th Flight Test Squadron, the service’s rotary wing test specialists, to develop new mobility systems under the initiative.
“The 413th has a breadth of experience testing a variety of rotor wing aircraft and we’re looking to those experts to assist with the testing of eVTOL aircraft,” AFWERX Agility Prime Program Lead Maj. Anthony Zartman said.
“We’ve grown to the point now with our partners that we’re ready to put hardware at multiple bases and take a close look at possible use cases. It’s an exciting time for our program.”
The resulting eVTOLS are expected to bring zero-emission aviation to the air force.
Other advances the new assets will provide include quiet noise profiles and cost-effective fleet operation and maintenance without dependency on traditional fossil fuels.
“Our mission is to continue to be at the leading edge of emerging technologies in the aerospace industry,” Zartman stated.
“AFWERX has integrated with each of these eVTOL companies as early as possible, so we can potentially influence those designs and also be up to speed on the pros and cons of current technology.”
“Then we’ll decide whether or not to continue to pursue those technologies, or perhaps pursue them in different ways. When the technology is advanced to a level where it provides a capability for the warfighter, we’ll be ready to pull the trigger and execute.”