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.