California-based Mayman Aerospace, a world leader in high-speed, compact VTOL aircraft and vectored thrust control, has confirmed a $1.25 million funding from the US Air Force AFWERX Agility Prime initiative.

The funding to continue development of the Speeder Air Utility Vehicle (AUV) demonstrates that AFWERX, a Technology Directorate of the US Air Force Research Laboratory under Agility Prime, considers that Speeder can meet increasing military requirements for contested logistics support.

The grant will support the next phases of the ultra-compact VTOL Speeder’s development, which offers diverse configurations to support multiple mission requirements.

Capable of moving over 600lb of payload at 500mph, Speeder will deliver essential materiel and support in active military theatres. Additionally, missions aimed at extending survivability can be supported that require a combination of speed, accuracy and immediacy.

Simple to operate in autonomous, remote, or piloted modes, Speeder flight operations can be handled in the field and the aircraft rapidly deployed to meet immediate mission needs. The platform is scalable from as small as a suitcase to the size of a small car, transportable in a pick-up truck, and requires minimal field support.

Mayman Aerospace is founded by namesake David Mayman, who said: “Speeder is a disruptive technology that is changing the way we think about small VTOL aircraft.

“It is perfectly suited to complex, demanding and often dangerous Department of Defense contested logistics missions. With the AFWERX funding we are better positioned to deliver and certify Speeder for military requirements within the next eighteen months.”

The ground footprint is minimal compared to a helicopter, and it is also significantly less complex, making it far less expensive to procure and operate. Turbine-powered Speeder is not restricted by the performance limitations of current and near-future battery technologies, lifting heavy payloads at high speed with easy field refuelling using Jet A-1, SAF or diesel.

AFWERX program director Lieutenant Colonel Nathan Diller said: “We welcome Mayman Aerospace to the programme and we are pleased to be supporting the development and testing of their aircraft, and look forward to the results.”

Speeder may be flown under full control using vectored-engine thrust, or with quick-fit aerodynamic surfaces for extended range missions. Its compact size, high-speed and low-altitude flight characteristics ensure Speeder presents a challenging target for small arms, MANPADS and IADS, avoiding the inherent vulnerabilities of rotary-wing and other transport assets.

Mayman Aerospace has already completed initial tethered flight trials with two Speeder prototypes. Trials with a third, the P2 prototype, are currently underway. P2 can be configured with four or eight engines and is anticipated to fly off-tether under FAA Experimental certification by the end of 2022.