The U.S. Air Force has announced that its XQ-58A Valkyrie demonstrator, a long-range, high subsonic unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), has completed its inaugural flight at Yuma Proving Ground, 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, or LCAAT, portfolio, which has the objective to break the escalating cost trajectory of tactically relevant aircraft. 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.
The new combat drone is specially suited to operate at the direction of manned planes nearby, under a concept the Air Force calls its “loyal wingman” program.
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.