The United States Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) has commenced test flights of the XQ-58A Valkyrie unmanned air vehicle (UAV) being developed in partnership with Kratos Unmanned Aerial Systems.
The long-range, subsonic aircraft made its first flight on March 5 2019 the Yuma Proving Grounds in Arizona, according to a statement from 88 Air Base Wing Public Affairs on Wednesday (US time).
The statement, posted on the US Wright-Patterson Air Force Base website, said the aircraft “behaved as expected” during the 76-minute flight.
There were five test flights planned in two phases. Those flights would be to evaluate 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,” AFRL’s XQ-58A program manager Doug Szczublewski said in the statement.
The partnership with Kratos Unmanned Aerial Systems to develop the XQ-58A is part of the AFRL’s Low Cost Attritable Aircraft Technology (LCAAT) portfolio, which has the objective to break the escalating cost trajectory of tactically relevant aircraft.
The objectives of the LCAAT initiative included designing and building UAS faster by developing better design tools, and maturing and leveraging commercial manufacturing processes to reduce build time and cost, the statement said.
VIDEO: A look at the XQ-58A from the United States Air Force Research Laboratory
The first flight of the XQ-58A Valkyrie comes after the Australian government announced at the Avalon Airshow plans to build a fighter-sized unmanned system designed to act as a “loyal wingman” in conjunction with high value assets such as the P-8A Poseidon or E-7A Wedgetail, or with combat aircraft like the F-35A or F/A-18F.
The Boeing Airpower Teaming System is being developed in conjunction with the Royal Australian Air Force and the Defence Science & Technology (DST) Group.
Also, Boeing has partnered with companies such as BAE Systems Australia, Ferra Engineering, RUAG Australia, Micro Electronic Technologies, AME Systems, and Allied Data Systems.
“The partnership will produce a concept demonstrator of a low cost unmanned ‘Loyal Wingman’ aircraft, capable of operating in concert with Air Force’s fifth generation air combat capability,” Defence Minister Christopher Pyne said in a statement.
“There is significant value investing in innovative, future leaning initiatives like this, particularly in the early conceptual stages where Defence can explore concepts and define the role such capabilities can play in our national security framework.”
VIDEO: A look at the Boeing Airpower Teaming System from the manufacturer’s website.