U.S. Marine Corps’ XQ-58A Valkyrie UAV Completes Second Flight

XQ-58A will undergo six test flights to assess autonomous support to F-35B jet, AI potential for enhancing combat air patrols.
  • Defensemirror.com bureau
  • 06:55 AM, March 1, 2024
  • 780
U.S. Marine Corps’ XQ-58A Valkyrie UAV Completes Second Flight
Kratos XQ-58A Valkyrie

The U.S. Marine Corps’ XQ-58A Valkyrie autonomous tactical unmanned air vehicle, completed its second test flight February 23, 2024 at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.

The XQ-58A provides the Marine Corps with a testbed platform for developing technologies and new concepts in support of the Marine Air Ground Task Force, such as autonomous flight and unmanned teaming with crewed aircraft. The Marine Corps’ continued experimentation with the XQ-58 is sponsored under the Department of Defense’s Rapid Defense Experimentation Reserve program, which accelerates the delivery of capabilities to the joint force.

This test flight is a key milestone in implementing Project Eagle, the service’s aviation modernization strategy in support of broader Force Design modernization efforts. The XQ-58A and other Project Eagle research and experimentation platforms will inform capabilities needed in future conflicts out to 2040.

The Marine Corps Warfighting Lab and the Deputy Commandant for Aviation’s Cunningham Group, an internal working group responsible for planning and implementing Project Eagle, played an instrumental role in coordinating across the Department of Defense for support for the flight.

This joint collaboration was supported by 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 broad team facilitated ongoing research, development, test, and evaluation for the aircraft for its first two flights.

The XQ-58A has a total of six planned test flights which will evaluate the effectiveness of autonomous electronic support to crewed platforms like the U.S.M.C. F-35B Lightning II and the potential for AI-enabled platforms to augment combat air patrols. The XQ-58A is envisioned to provide capability to the Marine Air Ground Task Force that ranges from electronic warfare support to delivering or supporting lethal fires and kill chains - key contributions to other service-level research and development programs such as the Penetrating Affordable Autonomous Collaborative Killer Portfolio.

XQ-58A Valkyrie

The XQ-58A Valkyrie, a collaborative effort between the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) and Kratos Defense & Security Solutions, Inc., is an unmanned air vehicle developed within the AFRL's Low Cost Attritable Aircraft Technology (LCAAT) portfolio. This attritable aircraft is characterized by its runway independence, low-maintenance, and reusable design, providing operational flexibility for various missions. With general characteristics including a capacity of 600 lb (internal and external), a length of 30 ft, wingspan of 27 ft, empty weight of 2,500 lb, and a max takeoff weight of 6,000 lb, its performance features encompass a cruise speed of 476 knots, a range of 3,000 nautical miles, and a service ceiling of 45,000 ft.

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