The US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), along with partner Kratos Defense and Security Solutions say they have completed the successful fourth flight test of the XQ-58A Valkyrie low-cost unmanned air vehicle demonstrator.
During the test, the they say that the Valkyrie demonstrator’s flight successfully met all of the test objectives, and the envelope was expanded beyond prior tests before safely landing in the Arizona desert.
According to AFRL XQ-58A Program Manager Michael Wipperman, flying at higher altitude allowed researchers to gather data in an operational environment more representative of real-world flight conditions.
“Flying at this altitude helped us gather important data such as vehicle response to temperature and vibration, which will prepare us as we move toward our next flight test,” said Wipperman.
This test represents a return-to-flight for the XQ-58A, which experienced a mishap upon landing after a successful 90-minute flight in October 2019. Following a Safety Investigation Board probe into the mishap, Wipperman says the resulting information was outbriefed to the convening authority, and the recommendations were taken and approved to ensure the success of this latest test.
“We’re very pleased with the outcome of this fourth flight test,” said Wipperman.
“We were able to show recovery for a successful flight at even higher altitudes. Given that we have overcome these challenges, we have confidence that the aircraft can continue its progression into flying in more representative conditions.”
Developed as part of ‘Low Cost Attritable Aircraft Technology’ portfolio, the XQ-58A is designed to be “a runway-independent, reusable unmanned air vehicle capable of a broad range of operational missions”.