Kratos’ XQ-58A Valkyrie “loyal wingman” drone successfully completed its fourth test/demonstration flight on Thursday, Jan. 23, at Yuma Proving Grounds, Arizona, the company said in a statement.
During the envelope-expanding flight that lasted for over an hour, the XQ-58A demonstrator successfully completed all 43 baseline test objectives, plus 6 additional tests, for a total of 49. The system deployed its parachutes and landed normally, validating the design changes incorporated for the test flight airbag system following the third flight. To date, the Valkyrie has flown more than five hours and exceeded the progress originally planned for the flight series.
Steve Fendley, President of Kratos Unmanned Systems Division, said, “I am thrilled for our joint Kratos and AFRL team. With another successful flight and substantial envelope expansion specifically targeted at validating a near-term mission requirement, we continue to illustrate the potential of the XQ-58A and validate our objective for rapid development of a low cost, attritable, strike UAS. We look forward to continuing to support AFRL and our other customers in application of the Valkyrie to both existing and evolving DoD opportunities.”
The XQ-58A Valkyrie system 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. It was developed by Kratos Unmanned Aerial Systems in partnership with the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) on the Low-Cost Attritable Strike Demonstrator (LCASD) Program.
In addition to the Valkyrie’s extreme survivability and adaptability, as part of AFRL’s Low-Cost Attritable Aircraft Technology (LCAAT) portfolio, the aircraft is designed to break the escalating cost trajectory of tactically relevant aircraft.
The XQ-58A demonstrator performed its maiden flight on March 5, 2019, at the Yuma Proving Grounds. The second flight was performed on June 11 and the third flight on Oct. 9, when the aircraft was damaged while landing. Following the third flight, Kratos released a statement saying that the “prototype cushion system, which was employed for the initial test series but is not intended for ultimate operational use, suffered an anomaly” during the final descent resulting in the aircraft sustaining damage upon touchdown.