APEI Gets $3.5M Contract to Develop Fighter Jet Power Modules

University of Arkansas startup Arkansas Power Electronics International has been awarded a $3.5 million contract by the U.S. Air Force to develop a high-temperature, silicon-carbide power module for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the UA announced Wednesday.

APEI is the anchor tenant at the UA's Arkansas Research and Technology Park. It develops advanced electronic systems for various industries including defense, aerospace and hybrid/electric vehicles. 

According to the UA, the Air Force contract will fund the transfer of APEI technology to a motor drive on the F-35 that enables the pilot to control the jet’s flight control surfaces including flight altitude, ability to turn, speed and stability.

The Joint Strike Fighter currently is in development and is a part of the Air Force’s new aircraft design philosophy mandating the replacement of mechanical hydraulic flight control systems with more efficient and reliable electric motors and drives.

APEI employs 49 at the UA's tech park, most of them UA graduates, and frequently collaborates with UA researchers. It is a client firm of Innovate Arkansas and the Arkansas Science & Technology Authority.

Statements from Arkansas' U.S. senators:

Sen. Mark Pryor: "I am pleased to see this latest contract award to Arkansas Power Electronics International to develop technology that will benefit our warfighters. APEI’s work in wide bandgap power electronics is doing great things for high technology manufacturing in Arkansas."

Sen. John Boozman: "The Arkansas Research and Technology Park has created a unique business hub that helps lure next-generation manufacturing jobs to the state. Having APEI produce this vital component of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is a win-win scenario. The Air Force needs to upgrade to a modern, lighter aircraft and we welcome the jobs and economic growth for northwest Arkansas."