XQ-58A Valkyrie Demonstrator Completes Inaugural Flight
(Source: US Air Force; issued March 06, 2019)
The XQ-58A Valkyrie demonstrator, a long-range, high subsonic unmanned air vehicle completed its inaugural flight March 5, 2019 at Yuma Proving Grounds, Arizona. (USAF photo)
WRIGHT-PATTERSON AFB, Ohio --- The XQ-58A Valkyrie demonstrator, a long-range, high subsonic unmanned air vehicle completed its inaugural flight March 5, 2019 at Yuma Proving Grounds, Arizona. The Air Force Research Laboratory partnered with Kratos Unmanned Aerial Systems to develop the XQ-58A.
This joint effort falls within the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Low-Cost Attritable Aircraft Technology (LCAAT) portfolio, which has the objective to break the escalating cost trajectory of tactically relevant aircraft.
The XQ-58A Valkyrie demonstrator, a long-range, high subsonic unmanned air vehicle, completed its inaugural flight March 5, 2019 at Yuma Proving Grounds, Arizona. The Air Force Research Laboratory partnered with Kratos Unmanned Aerial Systems to develop the XQ-58A. (AFRL video)
The objectives of the LCAAT initiative include designing and building UAS faster by developing better design tools, and maturing and leveraging commercial manufacturing processes to reduce build time and cost.
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 XQ-58A 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.
“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,” said Doug Szczublewski, AFRL’s XQ-58A Program Manager.
Air Force Completes First Flight Test of Valkyrie Unmanned Fighter Jet (excerpt)
(Source: Washington Post; published March 06, 2019)
By Aaron Gregg
The XQ-58A Valkyrie, a jet-powered drone designed to fly alongside manned fighter jets and navigate autonomously, completed its first test flight on Tuesday at Yuma Proving Grounds in Arizona, according to an Air Force announcement and video released Wednesday.
The flight test is a major step forward for an experimental “loyal wingman” concept that envisions small robotic drones accompanying fighter jets into combat, scouting ahead or absorbing enemy fire. Military experts have suggested such systems would be useful in a war between two rival nations, something that aligns with the Pentagon’s increasing focus on competing with China and Russia for military dominance.
The Pentagon has yet to commit to the idea. But the Air Force Research Laboratory is among several military agencies dabbling in such technology, partnering with a San Diego-based company called Kratos Defense and Security Solutions to develop the Valkyrie.
Chicago-based aerospace giant Boeing introduced its own “loyal wingman” prototype drone last month at a trade show in Australia, according to the trade publication Defense News. It expects its variant to achieve first flight next year.
The Valkyrie has an estimated unit cost of between $2 million and $3 million, something that is intended to give it a similar cost profile to the anti-aircraft missiles that enemies would theoretically fire at it. And it is distinct from prevailing U.S. drone models such as the MQ-9 Reaper in that it is jet-powered and can fly at supersonic speeds, something that could enable it to keep pace with an F-16 or F-35 fighter jet. (end of excerpt)
Click here for the full story, on the Washington Post website.