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San Francisco-based Elroy Air has announced $40 million in fresh financing to further the development of its hybrid-electric Chaparral cargo drone.
Contributors to Elroy Air’s Series A round include Marlinspike Capital, Lockheed Martin Ventures, and Prosperity7 Ventures, along with existing investors Catapult Ventures, DiamondStream Partners, Side X Side Management, Shield Capital Partners, and Precursor Ventures — bringing the company’s total funding to date to $48 million.
According to Elroy Air CEO David Merrill, the new capital will propel the company into an “exciting new stage” as it prepares the next iteration of the Chaparral for flight testing with the U.S. Air Force’s Agility Prime program. In addition to supporting the build of several pre-production flying prototypes, the funding will allow the company to grow its team across all areas of the business. Elroy Air recently made a key leadership hire in chief operating officer Jay Wakenshaw, and plans to approximately double its current headcount of 30 over the next nine to 12 months, Merrill said.
The participation of Marlinspike Capital — a veteran-owned investment firm that specializes in defense technologies — and Lockheed Martin Ventures, the venture arm of the leading defense contractor, signals strong interest in potential military applications of the Chaparral. The VTOL drone is targeting a range of 300 miles (480 kilometers) and a payload of 300 to 500 pounds (135 to 225 kilograms), offering considerable potential for autonomous aerial resupply.
“Elroy Air is a perfect example of the type of high-growth company that we invest in,” Marlinspike CEO and chief investment officer Neil Keegan stated in a press release. “We invest in the most promising dual-use technology companies, and the Elroy Air team is leading the field with its unique technology and its opportunity to revolutionize both the commercial and defense logistics markets.”
Chris Moran, executive director and general manager of Lockheed Martin Ventures, added: “Lockheed Martin is committed to identifying and investing in leading-edge technologies that will contribute to the national security solutions of the future. 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.”