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Kratos Skyborg Military Drone Coming in 2023

Knowing that the future of aerial combat will rely heavily on drones, the U.S. Air Force is currently involved in a number of programs, but also talks with different defense contractors, to come up with the required solutions.
XQ-58A Valkyrie, F-35 Lightning II, and F-22 Raptor fly in formation 6 photos
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To speed up the development of such systems (and others), USAF is running something called the Vanguard program. It presently comprises four different subprograms (Golden Horde, Navigation Technology Satellite 3, Skyborg, and Rocket Cargo), with the Skyborg being the one of particular interest when it comes to drones.

Skyborg seeks to develop “an autonomy-focused capability that will enable the Air Force to operate and sustain low-cost, teamed aircraft that can thwart adversaries with quick, decisive actions in contested environments.”

In words we can all understand, that would be drones that can work together with crewed aircraft. Pilots in Air Force planes will be fed information about their surroundings when the drones detect potential air and ground threats, and will also be given solutions “for striking or evading enemy aircraft.”

USAF does say it still applies a policy that states only humans will be making life and death decisions, and Skyborg machines, despite their fearsome name, will only be providing other types of assistance.

Skyborg was included in the Vanguard program in 2019, and now Kratos Defense, one of the contractors working on making the drone a reality, announced Skyborg should be ready in 2023.

The Kratos Skyborg drone is based on the XQ-58 Valkyrie. First flown in 2019, it can move at speeds of 652 mph (1,050 kph) for a range of 2,449 miles (3,941 km) and can carry Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) and small diameter bombs.

The Valkirye was created to support military operations of F-22 and F-35 planes, and is still in the process of being tested. Last we heard of it was back in April, when it dropped a smaller, Altius 600 drone from its belly.

press release

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