On June 12, the Director of the Operational Energy-Innovation (OE-I) Directorate addressed those gathered in a Manassas, Virginia, hangar to witness the unveiling of Electra’s Electric Short Takeoff and Landing (eSTOL) technology demonstrator aircraft.
Her message was one of encouragement and promise, highlighting the positive outlook the technology presented.
“Through increased payload and range, small logistics footprints, and the ability to operate in austere environments, eSTOL aircraft, such as Electra’s, can have immediate and profound strategic implications for national security,” she said.
The OE-I Directorate, by design, employs a tandem of programs—the Operational Energy Capability Improvement Fund (OECIF) and the Operational Energy Prototyping Fund (OEPF)—in succession, to advance best-of-the-best, novel innovations from potentially low technology readiness levels to and through demonstration, validation and procurement, where they can create real impact. Electra’s demonstrator intersects two of the OE-I Directorate’s, FY23 call-for-proposals topic areas: Aviation Efficiencies and Ground Vehicle Hybridization and Electrification.
Advancements in these areas can, collectively, increase capability and reduce energy demand for the warfighter. Electrification in the air, as well as on the ground, can reduce demand for lengthy supply chains, reduce energy costs, enable new capabilities, such as silent watch and increased range, and do so without sacrificing performance.
“The development of hybrid-based power systems will be critical for all future aviation platforms amongst the services,” the OE-I Directorate’s Aviation Efficiencies portfolio lead said.
Development, demonstration, validation, and procurement of such paradigm-shifting technological innovations is a big effort—a big responsibility—one the OE-I Directorate does not take lightly. Innovations should integrate with existing hardware and software infrastructures. Existing components and subcomponents often require redesigns and optimizations. Some benefit most from a new, purpose-built, ground-up approach. Innovative fueling and refueling, charging and recharging, vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-grid solutions, along with storage and alternative fuel technologies all fit into these key topic areas, and the OE-I Directorate is funding all of them, among others.
Large or small, central or supporting, new technologies or mature prototypes, the OE-I Directorate pays close attention to important technological advancements and works to ensure the Services have access to exactly what they need to bring about large-scale, game-changing roll-outs of their own.
In that vein, the Director of the OE-I Directorate said Electra’s contribution to energy innovation and the advancement of critical aviation technology is among those that truly embody the spirit of all that we hope to accomplish—providing an asymmetrical and overwhelming, operational energy advantage to the warfighter of today and tomorrow.
See the video recap of the event, including her comments and those of other event speakers.