Unmanned Systems News

XQ-58A Valkyrie Deploys sUAS Mid-Flight

Published: 06 Apr 2021 by

Kratos Defense & Security Solutions, Inc, has announced that the Air Force Research Laboratory, in partnership with Kratos Unmanned Systems Division and Area-I, has successfully completed the XQ-58A Valkyrie’s sixth test flight and first release from its internal weapons bay.

Valkyrie Weapons Bay Operation in Flight

Conducted at Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona on Friday, March 26, 2021, the test flight demonstrated the ability to launch a small, unmanned aircraft system (SUAS) from the internal weapons bay of the XQ-58A. Kratos, Area-I and AFRL designed and fabricated the SUAS carriage and developed software to enable release. After successful release of the ALTIUS-600 SUAS, the XQ-58A completed additional test points to expand its demonstrated operating envelope.

Steve Fendley, President of Kratos Unmanned Systems Division, said, “Successful operation of the internal weapons release system/function along with further aerodynamic envelope increases continues to assert the incredible capability and cost-per-performance value of the low-cost attritable XQ-58A Valkyrie. Additionally, this unique and key mission function success adds an exclamation point to the 30-month development of the Valkyrie system by the Kratos and AFRL team, which resulted in a pre-production system with substantial operational capability, not simply a proof-of-concept flight demonstrator.”

“This is the sixth flight of the Valkyrie and the first time the payload bay doors have been opened in flight,” said Alyson Turri, demonstration program manager. “In addition to this first SUAS separation demonstration, the XQ-58A flew higher and faster than previous flights.”

The XQ-58A Valkyrie system, developed by Kratos Unmanned Systems Division in partnership with the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) on the Low-Cost Attritable Strike Demonstrator (LCASD) Program, is a low-cost, multi-mission, runway-independent unmanned air vehicle (UAV) capable of long-range flights and high-subsonic speeds intended to support a variety of defense mission applications. In December 2020, Kratos received a $37.7 million contract from the AFLCMC/WA Advanced Aircraft Program Executive Office for Skyborg Delivery Order (DO) 2 to integrate, test, and deliver the XQ-58A Valkyrie system.

Kratos Unmanned Systems Division provides high performance unmanned aerial drone and target systems for threat representative target missions to exercise weapon, radar, and other systems; and tactical aerial drone systems for strike/ISR and force multiplication missions.

In addition to the Valkyrie’s extreme survivability and adaptability, as part of the Low-Cost Attritable Aircraft Technology (LCAAT) portfolio, it is designed to break the escalating cost trajectory of tactically relevant aircraft. This test further demonstrates the utility of affordable, high performance unmanned air vehicles.

Eric DeMarco, Kratos CEO, said, “I am very proud of the team’s continued success in implementing our strategy of having the right product at the right time and at the right price. This strategy is particularly timely based on the near-term budget realities and from a technology perspective ties to the present day near peer threats from nation state adversaries. Kratos remains fully focused on the rapid development of affordable defense technology systems, on schedule and on budget for our customers.”

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