U.S. Air Force’s stealthy unmanned combat aircraft damaged during test flight
Kratos Defense & Security Solutions, Inc. announced that the newest XQ-58A Valkyrie stealthy unmanned combat aerial vehicle has successfully completed a third test flight but later the U.S. Air Force reported that XQ-58A Valkyrie has been damaged during its landing.
“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,” according to a recent service news release.
During the 90 minute flight, the XQ-58A executed a perfect launch and met 56 of 56 baseline test points, plus two additional test points with excess fuel remaining after completion of the mission. After successful completion of the flight, the recovery parachute system worked flawlessly, and the aircraft descended nominally under the canopy system.
In final descent, the prototype cushion system, which was employed for the initial test series but is not intended for ultimate operational use, suffered an anomaly resulting in the aircraft sustaining damage upon touchdown.
“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,” said Maj. Gen. William Cooley, commander of the Air Force Research Laboratory.
The XQ-58A Valkyrie, like all Kratos’ heritage drones and Kratos’ high-performance jet target drones, are designed to be quickly repaired and reused if the damage is sustained after performing operational missions. The Valkyrie has been recovered, and the damage has been initially evaluated and determined to be fully repairable.
The scheduled fourth flight of the Valkyrie will be delayed until the conclusion of a safety investigation. There was no other damage to property or personnel.