USAF’s XQ-58A Valkyrie unmanned aircraft damaged during test flight

11 October 2019 (Last Updated October 11th, 2019 15:04)

The US Air Force’s (USAF) XQ-58A Valkyrie unmanned combat aerial vehicle has suffered damage after landing following the completion of its third flight test.

USAF’s XQ-58A Valkyrie unmanned aircraft damaged during test flight
The XQ-58A Valkyrie completed the third flight of the Low Cost Attritable Strike Demonstration program at Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona. Credit: Air Force photo by Senior Airman Joshua Hoskins.

The US Air Force’s (USAF) XQ-58A Valkyrie unmanned combat aerial vehicle has suffered damage after landing following the completion of its third flight test.

Kratos Defense & Security Solutions produced the XQ-58A for the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Low Cost Attritable Strike Demonstration programme.

The mishap happened moments after the drone completed the flight test at Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona, US, on 9 October.

According to the USAF, the flight lasted 90 minutes and the XQ-58A completed all test objectives at higher speeds and altitudes.

The service stated that the mishap occurred due to a malfunction of the drone’s provisional flight test recovery system and high surface winds.

In a separate press release, Kratos noted that the prototype cushion system encountered an anomaly in final descent and caused damage to the aircraft upon touchdown.

The company went on to say that the prototype is ‘not intended for ultimate operational use’.

Kratos said: “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 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 company added that it intends to take corrective measures in relation to the cushion system prior to the Valkyrie’s fourth scheduled test flight.

A safety investigation has been launched to study the incident.

The USAF expressed satisfaction over the performance of the aircraft during the flight test.

AFRL commander major general William Cooley said: “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 programme.”