The XQ-58A Valkyrie demonstrator, a long-range, high subsonic unmanned air vehicle completed its inaugural flight March 5, 2019 at Yuma Proving Grounds, Arizona. The Air Force Research Laboratory partnered with Kratos Unmanned Aerial Systems to develop the XQ-58A.
This joint effort falls within the Air Force Research Laboratory'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 leveraging commercial manufacturing processes to reduce build time and cost.
Developed for runway independence, the aircraft behaved as expected and completed 76 minutes of flight time. The time to first flight took a little over 2.5 years from contract award. The XQ-58A has a total of five planned test flights in two phases with objectives that include evaluating system functionality, 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," said Doug Szczublewski, AFRL's XQ-58A Program Manager.
XQ-58A Valkyrie ‘Loyal Wingman’ Test Flights Scheduled
An experimental aircraft designed to demonstrate a radical new concept in modern air warfare will enter flight testing this autumn, says Major Gen William Cooley, commander of the US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) The XQ-58A Valkyrie, built by target drone maker Kratos, embodies one approach to the AFRL’s concept of a “Loyal Wingman”, a low-cost, unmanned aircraft that could expand the combat capacity of a dwindling fleet of manned fighters and bombers without busting the service’s budget.
The Valkyrie “has a great deal of interest” within the USAF, Cooley said on 10 July at an event hosted by the Air Force Association.
“The basic idea is can we make a capable combat aircraft very low cost by using modern manufacturing techniques and drive the cost as low as possible,” Cooley says.
AFRL officials launched the XQ-58A under the low cost attritable strike demonstrator (LCASD) programme. The use of the relatively unfamiliar “attritable” term was intentional, Cooley says. The AFRL’s programme managers wanted to make it clear the drone is not disposable. If such a system were fielded, the goal would be to reuse the aircraft as much as possible, but losing the losing aircraft to accidents or hostile fire would be financially tolerable.
That approach stands in contrast not only to highly capable manned airdraft, such as the Lockheed Martin F-22 and F-35, but also to previous concepts for a highly capable — and expensive — unmanned combat air vehicle.
The AFRL now frames the operating concept for the LCASD as a Loyal Wingman. Instead of operating on its own, the XQ-58A demonstrator will be teamed with a manned fighter, such as an F-35.
Details fo the XQ-58A design have not been released. The AFRL is careful to describe a rendering of the aircraft released last year as an “artistic concept” that may not accurately reflect the real vehicle. Full details of the configuration remain secret, but the AFRL confirms the XQ-58A is 9.14m (30ft) long with an 8.23m wingspan. It also can carry a 272kg (600lb) payload internally or mid-wing, the AFRL says.
It follows a series of experiments in 2015 and 2017 funded by the AFRL called Have Raider. Lockheed’s Skunk Works division adapted the controls of an F-16 to fly fully autonomously, although a safety pilot was present for the demonstrations. In the second series of tests, the autonomous F-16 responded by itself to a pop-up target, identifying and responding to the new threat without human involvement.
If the USAF moves forward with a Loyal Wingman, one option could be taking retired combat aircraft, such as F-16s and B-1s, updating their computers with autonomous software, and returning the stored aircraft to combat as unmanned partners for manned aircraft. But AFRL seems to prefer taking the approach exemplified by the XQ-58A.
“Potentially it may make more sense to build on a programme that we’ve been advancing for a number of years and that’s the low cost attritable aircraft,” Cooley says. “The XQ-58A is the first step.”
UAV DACH: Beitrag im Original auf https://www.uasvision.com/2018/07/24/xq-58a-valkyrie-loyal-wingman-test-flights-scheduled/, mit freundlicher Genehmigung von UAS Vision automatisch importiert, Der Beitrag gibt nicht unbedingt die Meinung oder Position des UAV DACH e.V. wieder. Das Original ist in englischer Sprache.
Quelle: UAV DACH
PICTURE: Kratos XQ-58A makes flight debut
Kratos Defense & Security Solutions’ XQ-58A Valkyrie demonstrator has conducted its first sortie, launching a planned five flight test campaign.
Performed from the Yuma Proving Grounds in Arizona on 5 March, the debut lasted 76min, the US Air Force says, adding that the unmanned air vehicle performed as expected.
“This joint effort falls within the Air Force Research Laboratory’s [AFRL] Low Cost Attritable Aircraft Technology [LCAAT] portfolio, which has the objective to break the escalating cost trajectory of tactically relevant aircraft,” the USAF says. “The objectives of the LCAAT initiative include designing and building UAS faster by developing better design tools, and maturing and leveraging commercial manufacturing processes to reduce build time and cost.”
Also referred to as a Loyal Wingman, the Valkyrie travels at high subsonic speeds, and took 2.5 years to develop from contract award. The USAF says its flight-testing of the type will fall into two phases, spanning functionality, aerodynamic performance and launch and recovery.
“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 AFRL programme manager Doug Szczublewski.
Quelle: UAV DACH