Saturday, April 20, 2024

US Marine Corps stealthy Valkyrie drone completes second successful flight

The U.S. Marine Corps Headquarters conducted a joint test mission for the XQ-58A, a highly autonomous, low-cost tactical unmanned air vehicle, on February 23, 2024, at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida.

Serving as a testbed platform, the XQ-58A facilitates the development of technologies and innovative concepts vital to the Marine Air Ground Task Force. It explores autonomous flight capabilities and unmanned teaming strategies with crewed aircraft. Sponsored under the Department of Defense’s Rapid Defense Experimentation Reserve program, the Marine Corps’ ongoing experimentation with the XQ-58A aims to expedite capability delivery to the joint force.

The XQ-58A and other research platforms under Project Eagle are pivotal in shaping capabilities essential for future conflicts projected out to 2040.


The success of the recent flight owes much to the collaborative efforts of the Marine Corps Warfighting Lab, the Deputy Commandant for Aviation’s Cunningham Group, and various Department of Defense entities. Lt. Col. Bradley Buick, future capabilities officer for the Cunningham Group, emphasized the necessity for new aviation platforms that thrive in austere environments and enable strategic engagement.

Photo by Matthew Veasley

The joint collaboration received support from the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, the U.S. Air Force’s 40th Flight Test Squadron, the U.S. Air Force’s 96th Test Wing, the Naval Air Systems Command, and the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division’s AIRWorks. This collective effort ensures comprehensive research, development, test, and evaluation of the XQ-58A.

Lt. Col. Gavin Robillard, lead aviation strategy and plans officer for the Cunningham Group, underscored the importance of these test flights in guiding future Marine Aviation Plans and enhancing support for the Marine Air Ground Task Force.

The XQ-58A Valkyrie will undergo four more planned test flights, evaluating its effectiveness in autonomous electronic support to crewed platforms like the USMC F-35B Lightning II. Additionally, it will explore the potential for AI-enabled platforms to augment combat air patrols. Envisioned to provide versatile capabilities to the Marine Air Ground Task Force, from electronic warfare support to lethal fires and kill chains, the XQ-58A contributes significantly to ongoing research and development programs.

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Executive Editor

About author:

Colton Jones
Colton Jones
Colton Jones is the deputy editor of Defence Blog. He is a US-based journalist, writer and publisher who specializes in the defense industry in North America and Europe. He has written about emerging technology in military magazines and elsewhere. He is a former Air Force airmen and served at the Ramstein Air Base in Germany.