The U.S. Air Force may be on its way to acquiring a fleet of XQ-58 Valkyrie stealthy unmanned combat aerial vehicles, according to Kratos president and CEO Eric DeMarco.
The newest XQ-58A Valkyrie is a jet-powered drone designed to fly alongside manned fighter jets and navigate autonomously. The new unmanned combat aerial vehicle developed by the Kratos Defense & Security Solutions in partnership with the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) under the Low-Cost Attritable Strike Demonstrator (LCASD) Programme.
The company believes that it should receive orders for between 20 and 40 Valkyrie stealthy unmanned fighter jets by the end of the year, after a series of the test flights.
“In the second quarter, Kratos’ Unmanned Systems business successfully performed the second demonstration flight of the XQ-58A Valkyrie, with 100 percent of the test points being achieved and we continued to gain significant customer interest in this affordable, high-performance UAS platform.“ said DeMarco continued that “as a result, we have begun ordering engines for expected Valkyrie production in order to meet anticipated future customer delivery requirements.“
The UAV is scheduled to undergo a total of five planned test flights. During these demonstration flights, the XQ-58A will be tested for system functionality, aerodynamic performance, and its launch and recovery systems.
The company’s website said the vehicle is a multi-mission, runway-independent Unmanned Aerial Systems capable of long-range flights at high-subsonic speeds and a variety of applications.
Also, the company reported that since the first Valkyrie flight, potential customer interest in Kratos’ affordable, high performance unmanned aerial drone systems has increased significantly. The XQ-58A Valkyrie completed its maiden flight on March 5, 2019 at Yuma Proving Grounds, Arizona.