Drones

XQ-58A Valkyrie Tail #1 slated to go to USAF Museum after just four flights

The XQ-58A was the first aircraft developed in partnership between AFRL and Kratos Defense & Security Solutions to be a part of AFRL’s Low Cost Attritable Aircraft Technology portfolio.

Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) engineers prepared the XQ-58A Valkyrie Tail #1 to be transferred to the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base (AFB), Ohio, on Jun. 1, 2021.

As told by Rachel Simones, Air Force Research Laboratory, in the article XQ-58A Valkyrie Tail #1 prepares for transfer to Air Force Museum, the XQ-58A Valkyrie is a low cost, high performance unmanned air vehicle. Tail #1 was the first aircraft developed in partnership between AFRL and Kratos Defense & Security Solutions to be a part of AFRL’s Low Cost Attritable Aircraft Technology portfolio (LCAAT). The LCAAT portfolio was established to break the escalating cost trajectory of tactically relevant aircraft and provide an unmanned escort or wingman aircraft alongside a crewed fighter aircraft in combat.

According to Kratos, representing a clean-sheet, low-cost tactical UAS, the XQ-58A changed the paradigm for tactical UAS technology. The XQ-58A delivers a combination of long-range, high-speed, and maneuverability, along with the capability to deliver a mix of lethal weapons from its internal bomb bay and wing stations.

Runway-independence and extreme range deliver maximum operational flexibility and utility to the warfighter.

“Kratos manufactured this aircraft and AFRL conducted flight tests with it four times,” said Dave Hart, the chief engineer for the Autonomous Collaborative Platforms program. “Transferring it to the Air Force Museum helps to show the world what AFRL is capable of and it truly tells the AFRL story.”

The collaborative partnership included Kratos’ design and production of the aircraft, while the AFRL Aerospace Systems Directorate provided critical turbine inlet integration, structural testing, and evaluation of the XQ-58A’s electrical and control subsystems.

“The XQ-58A Valkyrie represents a sea of change in the way the Air Force can approach the design, development, production, and operation of unmanned aircraft,” said Steve Fendley, the President of Kratos Unmanned Systems Division. “The Valkyrie is the first Department of Defense aircraft system to break the historical cost per weight parametric, and it is the first UAV designed to operate with 4th and 5th generation manned aircraft.”

“The objective of this program was to design, manufacture and flight test an aircraft in 24 months,” said Hart. “Our flight tests validated this overall system for performance capabilities and leveraged AFRL’s facilities. When we started this program, I had no idea it was going to revolutionize the Air Force.”

The aircraft will be transferred to the National Air Force Museum and displayed at a tentative future date.

Photo credit: Ty Greenlees / U.S. Air Force

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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