The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) and Kratos Defense & Security Solutions have recently completed a successful flight of its production XQ-58A Valkyrie aircraft for the Block 2 Valkyrie Maturation Program. The test flight was performed at Yuma Proving Ground last week.
In the recent test flight, the drone successfully proved its extended capabilities by flying longer, at higher altitudes, and with a heavier overall weight than has ever been demonstrated before. The test involved the use of another Block 2 Valkyrie aircraft produced in the company-initiated 12-lot build.
During the test flight, the team demonstrated encrypted communications with redundant radios/communications (comms) packages for range and operational missions remote from government ranges. The aircraft navigated to the landing site in a simulated loss of communications scenario.
The aircraft successfully landed within the targeted zone, demonstrating key autonomous capability for the end-of-mission phase of flight and recovery of the aircraft without RF comms.
The Kratos XQ-58 Valkyrie is a stealthy unmanned combat aerial vehicle. The 30-feet (9.1 meters) long drone has a wingspan of 27 feet (8 meters), a maximum launch weight of 6,000 pounds (2,721 kg), and can fly at altitudes up to 45,000 feet above sea level. The aircraft can cruise at speeds of 0.72 Mach (889 km/h) and a maximum range of approximately 3,000 nautical miles (5,556 km).