The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) has announced the completion of the XQ-58A Valkyrie’s sixth flight test and first release from the internal weapons bay.

The testing was conducted on 26 March at Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona, US.

It has been conducted in cooperation with Kratos UAS and Area-I.

AFRL noted that the test demonstrated the ability to launch an ALTIUS-600 small, unmanned aircraft system (sUAS) from XQ-58A’s internal weapons bay.

The XQ-58A Valkyrie is a high subsonic, long-range strike unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) being developed by Kratos Defense & Security Solutions in collaboration with the AFRL.

It is a low-cost unmanned combat aerial vehicle designed for deployment in surveillance, reconnaissance and long-range combat missions to deliver optimal operational flexibility and utility to troops.

AFRL said that Kratos, Area-I and AFRL designed and fabricated the sUAS carriage. They also developed software to enable the release of ALTIUS-600.

Upon the release of the sUAS, the XQ-58A completed ‘additional test points to expand its demonstrated operating envelope’.

Demonstration programme manager Alyson Turri said: “This is the sixth flight of the Valkyrie and the first time the payload bay doors have been opened in flight.

“In addition to this first SUAS separation demonstration, the XQ-58A flew higher and faster than previous flights.”

The latest test further showcases the utility of high-performance UAVs.

In February, AFRL announced it was set to receive the ‘first major assembly’ as part of its Self-Protect High Energy Laser Demonstrator (SHiELD) Advanced Technology Demonstration (ATD) programme.