MAKING ITS maiden flight yesterday, March 5, at Yuma Proving Grounds, Arizona, was the XQ-58A Valkyrie unmanned air vehicle (UAV) demonstrator. The long-range, high subsonic UAV, originally designated the XQ-222, was developed jointly by the US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) and Kratos Unmanned Aerial Systems.
This joint effort falls within 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 include designing and building UAS faster by developing better design tools and maturing and making use of commercial manufacturing processes to reduce build time and cost.
Developed for runway independence, the aircraft behaved as expected and completed 1hr 16mins of flight time. The time to first flight took a little over 2½ years from contract award. The XQ-58A will make a total of five planned test flights in two phases with objectives that include evaluating system functionality, aerodynamic performance and launch and recovery systems.