Kratos Defense & Security Solutions’ XQ-58A Valkyrie demonstrator has conducted its first sortie, launching a planned five flight test campaign.

Performed from the Yuma Proving Grounds in Arizona on 5 March, the debut lasted 76min, the US Air Force says, adding that the unmanned air vehicle performed as expected.

“This joint effort falls within the Air Force Research Laboratory’s [AFRL] Low Cost Attritable Aircraft Technology [LCAAT] portfolio, which has the objective to break the escalating cost trajectory of tactically relevant aircraft,” the USAF says. “The objectives of the LCAAT initiative include designing and building UAS faster by developing better design tools, and maturing and leveraging commercial manufacturing processes to reduce build time and cost.”

Kratos XQ-58A Valkyrie

US Air Force

Also referred to as a Loyal Wingman, the Valkyrie travels at high subsonic speeds, and took 2.5 years to develop from contract award. The USAF says its flight-testing of the type will fall into two phases, spanning functionality, aerodynamic performance and launch and recovery.

“XQ-58A is the first example of a class of UAV that is defined by low procurement and operating costs while providing game changing combat capability,” says AFRL programme manager Doug Szczublewski.