USAF's First Archer Midnight eVTOL Flight Coming Soon, Military Ops Will Never Be the Same

The American military if presently racing on multiple fronts to modernize its arsenal and hardware inventory, chasing after anything from hypersonic vehicles to uncrewed surface vessels. And it's also betting heavily on electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, as these machines may open up new opportunities and capabilities for military operations.
Archer Midnight eVTOL 7 photos
Photo: Archer
Archer Aircraft Branded with the United LogoArcher MidnightArcher MidnightArcher MidnightArcher MidnightArcher Midnight
At the moment several branches of the American fighting force are looking at a number of such solutions, but none of them seems as promising and ready to enter service as that put forward by a company called Archer Aviation.

The company's product is called Midnight, as we've discussed it before here on autoevolution. Officially meant to be used as an air taxi conducting city and inter-city flights, the eVTOL is taking to the sky thanks to a total of 12 electric motors, fed by six independent battery packs.

The aircraft can reach a top speed of 150 mph (241 kph) and can stay airborne for as much as 100 miles (160 km).

The numbers above may not seem all that extraordinary, but there is something about Archer and its product that has gathered a lot of attention. The company is backed by automotive giant Stellantis, but this week also managed to get investments from Boeing and United Airlines, to a total of $215 million.

More important than that though is the fact the Department of Defense already committed $142 million, "the largest total contract value of any eVTOL company," to get its hands on the Midnight.

When announcing the Boeing and United investment this week Archer also said it may very well become the first company in this business to deliver an eVTOL to a customer. The U.S. Air Force (USAF) is that customer, and it's expected to get delivery of the first such machine at the end of this year, or at the beginning of the next one at the latest.

On the civilian front, the Midnight was cleared by the FAA through the Special Airworthiness Certificate to begin test flight operations, and that is expected to take place over the next few weeks.

The "for credit" testing of the machine, which will ultimately lead to a full FAA certification and the beginning of commercial operations in 2025, will commence early next year.

For Archer, which was founded in 2018, things seem to be moving quite rapidly. Not only will this company become the first to deliver an eVTOL to a customer, but it will probably become the first one to operate an assembly facility for such vehicles. The site of the plant is Covington, Georgia, and it will be opened next year with help from Stellantis.

With the piloted Midnight clearing hurdle after hurdle, Archer has now partnered with Boeing and Wisk to pursue autonomous capabilities.
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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