Elroy Air’s autonomous, vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) cargo aircraft, the Chaparral, has caught the attention of investors, including Lockheed Martin.

That company’s venture capital arm and others were involved in Elroy Air’s Series A raise announced on Wednesday. The company reported it had closed on $40 million in financing from Marlinspike Capital, Prosperity7 Ventures and Lockheed Martin Ventures, with participation from Catapult Ventures, DiamondStream Partners, Side X Side Management, Shield Capital Partners and Precursor Ventures. 

According to the company, it has raised a total of $48 million since 2017.

The Chaparral has a set of applications for national defense including dust-off operations; casualty evacuation; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; and other military operations, which will be tested through San Francisco-based Elroy Air’s partnership with the U.S. Air Force and Navy in 2022.

“Lockheed Martin is committed to identifying and investing in leading-edge technologies that will contribute to the national security solutions of the future,” said Chris Moran, executive director and general manager of Lockheed Martin Ventures. “Unmanned aerial systems and VTOL aircraft are key emerging technologies in this effort, and we are excited to partner with Elroy Air to accelerate their innovative approach to automating aerial logistics.”

Funding details: Elroy Air

Funding amount
$40 million

Funding round
Series A

Lead investors
Marlinspike Capital, Prosperity7 Ventures and Lockheed Martin Ventures

Secondary investors
Catapult Ventures, DiamondStream Partners, Side X Side Management, Shield Capital Partners and Precursor Ventures

Business goals for the round
Build, test and expand capabilities of the Chaparral

Total funding
$48 million

While the company has a number of active and pending patents for its autonomous cargo-handling systems and aircrafts, it plans to use the funds to put those patents into action and expand the Chaparral’s capabilities and services for its aerial logistics needs.

“This funding propels us into an exciting new stage of our business,” said CEO of Elroy Air David Merrill. “We’re going to complete the build of full-capability pre-production aircraft, advance our certification programs, secure key supply chain partnerships, and enter into flight-test operations in collaboration with our partners at the Naval Postgraduate School and the U.S. Air Force.”

Video: Elroy Air-YouTube

The aircraft is designed to hold 300-500 pounds of cargo for approximately 300 miles, giving it a competitive advantage over many last-mile drones that are built to take small parcels over short distances. The company plans to use this advantage to expand into larger markets for heavier freight and middle-mile needs.

“Logistics and delivery services market is huge, and it will continue to grow with the continuing growth of e-commerce.” said Aysar Tayeb, executive managing director of Prosperity7 Ventures. “With their strong team, unique design features, hybrid engine allowing reliability for heavier loads and longer distances, Elroy Air is well positioned to become a market leader. We believe targeting logistics will help accelerate development of the VTOL space and pave the way for other applications.”

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