The XQ-58A Valkyrie, initially designated XQ-222, is part of the US Air Force’s effort to acquire fast, stealthy, armed drones that can fly and fight alongside manned fighters.

XQ-58A Valkyrie review on Dung Tran Military channel

Introduce

Just recently, Kratos Defense & Security Solutions announced that the latest XQ-58A Valkyrie stealthy unmanned combat aerial vehicle has successfully completed the 3rd test flight.

Notably, the US Air Force announced that UAV XQ-58A Valkyrie had minor damage during landing. The notice said: “The XQ-58A Valkyrie completed the third flight of the Low Cost Attritable Strike Demonstration program Oct. 9 at Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona. Unfortunately, high surface winds and a malfunction of the vehicle’s provisional flight test recovery system resulted in a mishap after landing which damaged the aircraft.”

Major General William Cooley, commander of the US Air Force Research Laboratory, said: “We continue to learn about this aircraft and the potential the technology can offer to the warfighter.  This third flight successfully completed its objectives and expanded the envelope from the first two flights.  We have gathered a great deal of valuable data from the flight and will even learn from this mishap.  Ultimately, that is the objective of any experiment and we’re pleased with the progress of the Low Cost Attritable Strike Demonstration program.”

XQ-58A Valkyrie
XQ-58A Valkyrie

What is the idea?

The XQ-58A Valkyrie, initially designated XQ-222, is part of the US Air Force’s effort to acquire fast, stealthy, armed drones that can fly and fight alongside manned fighters.

The idea here is a reusable drone that will be paired with fifth-generation fighters such as F-35 or F-22. It can keep pace with manned planes, but be tasked out for parts of the mission that you wouldn’t send a human teammate to do. It is controlled by a parent aircraft to accomplish tasks such as scouting, or absorb enemy fire if attacked.

XQ-58A Valkyrie also be able to be deployed as part of a swarm of drones, with or without direct pilot control. Basically, with the XQ-58, an F-35 pilot be able to cover more space at a lower cost point.

XQ-58A Valkyrie
XQ-58A Valkyrie

Design

According to the information revealed, the new UCAV has a length of 9.14 m, and the span of its wing is 8.23 m.

The XQ-58A Valkyrie’s combat load is 272 kg, and the weapons can be placed both on the wing pylons and inside a special compartment. It features stealth technology with a trapezoidal fuselage with a chined edge, V-tail, and an S-shaped air intake.

The XQ-58A Valkyrie is not a full-fledged fighter, it is more suitable for the destruction of the air defense systems, such as the Russian S-400 and S-500. It is planned that the “Valkyries”, each of which is capable of carrying two small diameter guided bombs, will be in the forefront of the attacking orders and take upon themselves the first blow of air defense. Their main target will be enemy radar, anti-aircraft missile launchers, air defense command posts.

XQ-58A Valkyrie
XQ-58A Valkyrie

Potential application

The new XQ-58A Valkyrie unmanned aerial vehicle is expected to serve as an inexpensive surveillance, electronic warfare and attack drone, with an additional capability of being able to act in concert with a manned combat aircraft known as the ‘loyal wingman’ concept.

Kratos hopes to sell its new drone to the air force for $3 million apiece if it orders up to 99 units, or $2 million each for orders above 100 units a year.

It can be noticed that XQ-58’s payload capacity is quite small compared to many fighters. However, it offers one significant strength that more than offsets vulnerabilities posed by its limited weapons and speed: it’s incredibly cheap. At the price revealed by Krato, it was equivalent to a Patriot missile.

Compare to expensive F-35s, the XQ-58A Valkyrie has a huge advantage, and perhaps this is how Americans will change the game in the future. These aircraft would make difficult for even the best anti-aircraft platforms thanks to their stealthy design, but because of their numbers and low cost, it wouldn’t matter if they were shot down. Using Valkyries for the initial barrage would severely limit American losses in terms of high-dollar platforms and pilots, while dealing the enemy a devastating blow.

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