Air Force completes first flight test of XQ-58A Valkyrie

It has a total of five planned test flights in two phases with objectives that include evaluating system functionality, aerodynamic performance, and launch and recovery systems.


The Kratos XQ-58A Valkyrie is a planned stealthy unmanned combat air vehicle that is designed with the aim of using as part of the Low-Cost, Attritable Strike Unmanned Air System Demonstration (LCASD) to escort the F-22 or F-35 during combat missions and to be able to deploy weapons or surveillance systems.

On March 5, 2019, this high subsonic unmanned air vehicle completed its inaugural flight at Yuma Proving Grounds, Arizona. Developed for runway independence, the aircraft behaved as expected and completed 76 minutes of flight time. The time to first flight took a little over 2.5 years from contract award.

The flight test is a major step forward for an experimental “loyal wingman” concept that envisions small robotic drones accompanying fighter jets into combat, scout ahead or absorb enemy fire.

The XQ-58A is designed by Air Force Research Laboratory in collaboration with Kratos Unmanned Aerial Systems. This joint effort falls within the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Low-Cost Attritable Aircraft Technology (LCAAT) portfolio, which has the objective of designing and building UAS faster by developing better design tools, and maturing and leveraging commercial manufacturing processes to reduce build time and cost.

Doug Szczublewski, AFRL’s XQ-58A Program Manager said, “XQ-58A is the first example of a class of UAV that is defined by low procurement and operating costs while providing game-changing combat capability.”

Kratos chief executive Eric DeMarco said in a call with investors late last month that a successful initial flight test for the Valkyrie would be “one of the most significant milestones in Kratos’ history.

“We also see 2019 as the year that Kratos is established as the world leader in the high performance unmanned aerial drone system product class that we’re in, which we see as a multi-billion-dollar opportunity for our company.”

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