The Marine Corps' XQ-58A Valkyrie, a highly autonomous, low-cost tactical unmanned air vehicle has successfully completed its first test flight on October 3, 2023, at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida.
Kratos Defense and Security Solutions, Inc. says that the aircraft performed as expected. The XQ-58A has a total of six planned test flights with objectives that include evaluating the platform's ability to support a variety of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) missions; the effectiveness of autonomous electronic support to crewed platforms; the potential for AI-enabled platforms to augment combat air patrols; and continuing to mature other manned-unmanned teaming (MUM-T) capability objectives.
Flying since 2019, Kratos' XQ-58A Valkyrie is a high-performance tactical UAV capable of long-range flights at high-subsonic speeds currently in production in Oklahoma City. The Valkyrie can serve as a loyal wingman, conduct single UAS operations, or operate in swarms. Combined with its affordability, survivability, long-range, high-subsonic speeds, maneuverability, and ability to carry flexible mission kit configurations and mix of lethal weapons from its internal bomb bay and wing stations, the XQ-58A provide extreme flexibility for the multiple Department of Defense customers that have it under contract today.
With design and production approaches leveraged and evolved from Kratos' jet drone target aircraft, the high-performance Valkyrie falls well within the attritable cost class as defined by the House-passed 2024 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) - another key discriminator and a key enabling technology to achieve the Department of Defense's mass mission.
Kratos partnered with the Marine Corps, the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering (OUSDRE), the Naval Air Systems Command and Naval Warfare Center Aircraft Division to facilitate the ongoing research, development, test and evaluation of the Marine Corps XQ-58A Valkyrie.
This joint collaboration was supported by the 40th Flight Test Squadron, 96th Test Wing and the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division. This flight marks a key milestone in the Marine Corps' Penetrating Affordable Autonomous Collaborative Killer - Portfolio (PAACK-P) program. Future test flights inform Marine Corps XQ-58A Valkyrie requirements for the Marine Air-Ground Task Force Unmanned Aerial System Expeditionary (MUX) Tactical Aircraft (TACAIR).
“This XQ-58A test flight and the data collected inform future requirements for the warfighter, while fueling innovation and experimentation opportunities within Marine Corps modernization and industry partnership,” says Scott Bey, portfolio manager of OUSDRE, Mission Capabilities, Prototypes and Experiments.
“The Marine Corps constantly seeks to modernize and enhance its capabilities in a rapidly evolving security environment,” says Lt. Col. Donald Kelly, Headquarters Marine Corps Aviation Cunningham Group and Advanced Development Team. “Testing the XQ-58 Valkyrie determines requirements for a highly autonomous, low-cost tactical UAS that compliments the need for agile, expeditionary and lethal capabilities in support of both the Marine Corps' stand-in force operations in austere environments and the Joint Force.”
Steve Fendley, President of Kratos Unmanned Systems Division, adds, “We are incredibly proud to have kicked off this first flight of the unique Marines Valkyrie mission configuration with such a successful result and look forward to continuing the partnership and cooperative team working relationship with the Marine Corps, the 40th Flight Test Squadron, 96th Test Wing and the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division.”
Kratos' American-made, affordable, high-performance jet aircraft offer affordable solutions to the production, deployment, and engagement of affordable mass for U.S. military defense. Kratos' unique approach and portfolio of in-production and flying UAVs directly align with the Department of Defense's most recent technology, strategy, and affordability thrusts by delivering systems well within the prescribed cost thresholds which can deploy and operate from even the most remote regions around the world.
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