Thursday, April 18, 2024

USAF successfully completes XQ-58A Valkyrie Skyborg tests flight

Kratos Defense & Security Solutions has recently completed a successful series of flights with two production XQ-58A Valkyrie aircraft for the Skyborg program in the USA’s southwestern desert.

The Skyborg program team includes the U.S. Air Force (USAF) Fighters and Advanced Aircraft Directorate, Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), USAF 40th Flight Test Squadron (FLTS), USAF 46th Test Squadron, and Kratos. The program is intended to develop an autonomous flight platform from concept to reality.

“The continued evolution and demonstration of the USAF Skyborg system is charting the course for the range of tactical applications Skyborg is intended to address and inform,” said Steve Fendley, President of the Kratos Unmanned Systems Division. “These most recent Skyborg flights, with production Valkyrie aircraft being delivered on the Skyborg contract, illustrate the benefits and utility of these uncrewed systems while informing the operational concepts and Concepts of Employment (CONEMPS). The entire Kratos team is excited to be a part of this game-changing application space for military uncrewed aircraft systems.”

The XQ-58A Valkyrie was initially developed in cooperation with AFRL as part of the Low-Cost Attritable Strike Demonstrator program with multiple follow-on programs and projects for several customers and applications. These multiple program applications continue with the Skyborg Program, as well as several others related to production, specific mission applications, and operational development of the XQ-58A family of innovative, affordable, extraordinary, and high-performance tactical UAVs.

The aircraft will be capable of conducting intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions, as well as carrying out long-range strikes and performing escort duty for other aircraft.

The XQ-58A Valkyrie was developed through commercial manufacturing processes that reduce build time and cost, making it a platform that can be used for multiple missions without costing the Air Force too much when it becomes a combat loss. The aircraft combines an extremely long-range (2,449 miles, 3,941 km) with high speed (652 mph, 1,050 km/h). The XQ-58 is capable of being deployed as part of a swarm of drones, with or without direct pilot control. Though the XQ-58 is capable of conventional take-offs and landings, it can also be launched from nondescript launch modules, such as support ships, shipping containers, and semi-trailer trucks.