Kratos Defense & Security Solutions, Inc., a technology company in the defence and national security sector, announced the successful completion of a test flight of the Marine Corps XQ-58A Valkyrie, an autonomous, tactical unmanned air vehicle. 

The collaboration, involving multiple defence entities, paves the way for developments within the Marine Corps and industry partnerships.

Kratos Defense & Security Solutions, Inc. has revealed the success of the Marine Corps XQ-58A Valkyrie’s recent test flight. The aircraft represents an achievement in the Marine Corps Penetrating Affordable Autonomous Collaborative Killer – Portfolio (PAACK-P) programme.

The test flight, which took place at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, on October 3, 2023, was the result of a collaborative effort between Kratos, the Marine Corps, the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering (OUSD (R&E)), the Naval Air Systems Command, and the Naval Warfare Center Aircraft Division. The 40th Flight Test Squadron and the 96th Test Wing supported the successful flight.

The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) achieved a milestone by conducting a three-hour flight sortie on 25 July, 2023, marking the first-ever deployment of AFRL-developed machine-learning trained artificial intelligence algorithms aboard an XQ-58A Valkyrie uncrewed aircraft. 

“This XQ-58A test flight and the data collected inform future requirements for the warfighter while fueling innovation and experimentation opportunities within Marine Corps modernization and industry partnership,” commented Scott Bey, portfolio manager of OUSD (R&E), Mission Capabilities, Prototypes, and Experiments.

The XQ-58A Valkyrie met or exceeded expectations during the test flight, emphasizing its potential as an autonomous, tactical unmanned aerial system. The aircraft’s capabilities include supporting a wide range of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions, offering autonomous electronic support to crewed platforms, and exploring integrating AI-enabled platforms into combat air patrols.

Kratos’ XQ-58A Valkyrie, in production in Oklahoma City, has been in flight since 2019 and stands out as a tactical UAV. With its ability to operate in swarms, serve as a wingman, and carry a mix of lethal weapons, the Valkyrie offers flexibility to meet the demands of multiple Department of Defense customers.

“We are incredibly proud to have kicked off this first flight of the unique Marines Valkyrie mission configuration with such a successful result and look forward to continuing the partnership and cooperative team working relationship with the Marine Corps,” said Steve Fendley, President of Kratos Unmanned Systems Division.

The XQ-58A Valkyrie’s survivability, long-range capabilities, high-subsonic speeds, and manoeuvrability align with the Department of Defense’s technology goals, making it an important asset for US military defence.

Kratos’ collaboration in this flight test reinforces its position as a technology provider in the defence, national security, and global market. The demonstration of the XQ-58A Valkyrie’s capabilities opens new horizons for Marine Corps operations and also illustrates the evolving landscape of tactical UAVs in the defence industry.

In 2020, Kratos Defense & Security Solutions tested its XQ-58A Valkyrie unmanned air vehicle in formation with two US Air Force fighter jets, F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning. The Valkyrie flew autonomously in formation and met 80% of the overall flight test objectives with 100% of the formation flying objectives.