Meet This Experimental Drone: Is This Stealth Drone the Future of the U.S. Air Force?
The U.S. Air Force’s future drone fighter is back in the air.
The XQ-58 Valkyrie on June 11, 2019 took off for its second test flight over Yuma, Arizona. The 29-feet-long, jet-powered drone “successfully completed all test objectives during a 71-minute flight,” the Air Force Research Laboratory announced.
The Valkyrie’s first flight took place in March 2019. The Air Force and California drone-maker Kratos plan to conduct five test sorties during this phase of the XQ-58’s development.While the Valkyrie program develops one type of wingman drone, the broader Skyborg program is working on the hardware and software for integrating manned and unmanned fighters.
A new version of the Air Force’s F-35A stealth fighter, as well as the heavily upgraded version of the F-15 that the flying branch hopes to acquire, both could function as flight leads for the service’s wingman drones, Will Roper, the Air Force’s top weapons-buyer, told Defense News reporter Valerie Insinna.The Air Force is in discussions with Boeing and Lockheed respectively to modify their F-15EX and F-35A Block 4 fighters to accommodate the datalinks and processors from the Skyborg effort, Insinna reported.
Roper confirmed that the Air Force eventually will fold the subsonic XQ-58 into the Skyborg program. The Air Force plans to test wingman drones in 2019 and 2020 “with the hope of having an aircraft ready by 2023,” Insinna wrote.
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