Valkyrie “Wingman” Drone Damaged After Third Test Flight

The XQ-58A Valkyrie demonstrator, a long-range, high subsonic unmanned air vehicle, completed its inaugural flight March 5, 2019, at Yuma Proving Grounds, Ariz. Air Force photo by SrA. Joshua Hoskins.

The XQ-58A Valkyrie experimental “wingman” drone was damaged upon landing after its third flight, on Oct. 9.

The Valkyrie, produced by Kratos in partnership with the Air Force Research Laboratory, is part of AFRL’s Low Cost Attritable Strike Demonstration Program. During a 90-minute flight at the US Army’s Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona, the aircraft met its test objectives, including flying faster and at a higher altitude than previous flights.

However, after landing, high surface winds combined with a malfunction of the aircraft’s provisional flight test recovery system caused a mishap, the service said in an Oct. 10 release. The Air Force did not disclose the extent of the damage.

“We continue to learn about this aircraft and the potential the technology can offer to the warfighter,” AFRL Commander Maj. Gen. William Cooley said in the release. “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 program.”

The Air Force is conducting a safety investigation into the mishap. The fourth flight of the Valkyrie is delayed until that investigation concludes. There was no damage to property or personnel in the incident.

The service has said it hopes to buy 20 to 30 of the aircraft, and since it represents “lower-end tech,” it can be produced “quite rapidly,” Air Force acquisition boss Will Roper said earlier this year.