The Air Force Research Laboratory successfully completed the XQ-58A Valkyrie’s sixth flight test and first release from its internal weapons bay, March 26, 2021, at Yuma Proving Ground, Ariz.
This test, conducted in partnership with Kratos UAS and Area-I, demonstrated the ability to launch an ALTIUS-600 small, unmanned aircraft system from the internal weapons bay of the XQ-58A.
Kratos, Area-I and AFRL designed and fabricated the SUAS carriage and developed software to enable release. After successful release of the SUAS, the XQ-58A completed additional test points to expand its demonstrated operating envelope.
“This is the sixth flight of the Valkyrie and the first time the payload bay doors have been opened in flight,” said Alyson Turri, demonstration program manager. “In addition to this first SUAS separation demonstration, the XQ-58A flew higher and faster than previous flights.”
This test further demonstrates the utility of affordable, high performance unmanned air vehicles.
The Valkyrie falls within AFRL’s Low Cost Attritable Aircraft Technology portfolio, whose objectives include designing and building Unmanned combat aerial vehicles faster by developing better design tools and maturing and leveraging commercial manufacturing processes to reduce build time and cost. The role of the LCAAT is to escort the F-22 or F-35 during combat missions, and to be able to deploy weapons or surveillance systems.
The XQ-58 was designed to act as a “loyal wingman” that is controlled by a parent aircraft to accomplish tasks such as scouting, or absorb enemy fire if attacked. It must also be able to be deployed as part of a swarm of drones, with or without direct pilot control.
The Air Force Research Laboratory is the primary scientific research and development center for the Department of the Air Force.
AFRL plays an integral role in leading the discovery, development, and integration of affordable warfighting technologies for our air, space, and cyberspace force. With a workforce of more than 11,000 across nine technology areas and 40 other operations across the globe, AFRL provides a diverse portfolio of science and technology ranging from fundamental to advanced research and technology development.