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There's little doubt that jet-powered combat drones will play an important role in future military theaters, a future that is one step closer with news that the Kratos XQ-58A Valkyrie demonstrator completed its maiden flight on March 5. In a statement released today, Kratos said that the unmanned Valkyrie met all of its test objectives during its 76-minute flight over the United States Army's Yuma Proving Grounds in Arizona.

A Joint project of Kratos Unmanned Aerial Systems (KUAS) and the US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), the XQ-58A Valkyrie is part of the AFRL's Low Cost Attritable Aircraft Technology (LCAAT) portfolio that is tasked with addressing the problem of spiraling costs of developing, building, and operating military aircraft by using advanced commercial techniques.
The new low-cost, runway-independent demonstrator drone is a long-range, high-subsonic unmanned air vehicle that's been under development for two and a half years. With its V-tail, central air intake, and trapezoidal fuselage for a stealth profile, the Valkyrie is intended help in the development of combat drones that can act as escorts for the F-22 or F-35 fighters as well as a surveillance and attack platform. It's designed to act independently or as part of a UAV swarm.

The 29-ft (9-m) long Valkyrie has a wingspan of 22 ft (6.7 m), a top speed of 567 knots (652 mph, 1,050 km/h), a service ceiling of 44,997 ft (13,715 m), and a range of 2,128 nm (2,449 mi, 3,941 km). It has room for eight weapons, including JDAMs and other small diameter bombs. It's scheduled to carry out four more test flights to evaluate its flight systems, aerodynamic performance, and launch and recovery systems.
"XQ-58A is the first example of a class of UAV that is defined by low procurement and operating costs while providing game changing combat capability," says Doug Szczublewski, AFRL's XQ-58A Program Manager.

The US Air Force Research Laboratory video below shows the XQ-58A Valkyrie in flight.

Sources: Kratos, US Air Force