USAF Successfully Flies Its High-Speed Stealthy Drones, the Skyborg Valkyrie

The future of military operations can no longer be envisioned without unmanned aerial systems flying side by side with next-generation fighter jets in joint operations. The U.S. Air Force (USAF) just took one step further for the Skyborg program by successfully flying two production XQ-58A Valkyrie aircraft.
The XQ-58A Valkyrie is a high-speed, stealthy military drone 7 photos
Photo: Kratos
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The Skyborg program, exploring all the potential applications of military drones, is the culminating point in a long series of programs developed by USAF and AFRL (Air Force Research Laboratory) together with other partners. USAF needed a more affordable, flexible alternative to its unmanned aircraft that were typically highly sophisticated and costly, which resulted in many limitations.

As a result, Kratos started developing the XQ-58A Valkyrie, a tactical UAS (unmanned aerial system) meant to support the operations of the F-35 and F-22 fighter jets. In fact, Kratos emphatically claims that “the operational options that our family of UAVs brings to the warfighter are limited only by the imagination.”

This experimental, stealthy military drone completed its first flight back in 2019, followed by other impressive achievements, such as dropping a smaller drone. The most recent development in the Skyborg program was a series of flights conducted with two production Valkyrie drones, confirming their capabilities and the program’s continuous evolution.

The XQ-58A was developed through a process that saved both time and costs, making it a platform that can be used for multiple missions without costing the Air Force too much when it becomes a combat loss. It combines an extremely long range (2,449 miles/3,941 km) with high speed (652 mph/1,050 kph) while also being capable of operating in locations without a conventional runway. Its internal bomb bay and wing stations hide lethal weapons such as the Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) and small diameter bombs.

The Skyborg uncrewed wingman for USAF’s next-generation fighter jets is due to officially enter service by 2023.
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About the author: Otilia Drăgan
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Otilia believes that if it’s eco, green, or groundbreaking, people should know about it (especially if it's got wheels or wings). Working in online media for over five years, she's gained a deeper perspective on how people everywhere can inspire each other.
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