US aerospace firm Kratos Defense & Security Solutions Inc launched what it described as "the future of air combat" at the Paris Air Show in the form of a new class of high-performance, jet-powered unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
Building on its experience in providing high-performance aerial target drones for the US Department of Defense, Kratos used the air show to present its XQ-222 Valkyrie and UTAP-22 Mako UAVs, which the company says are "designed to function as wingmen to manned aircraft in contested airspace".
The Valkyrie has been in development since July 2016, when the US Air Force awarded Kratos a contract under its Low Cost Attritable Aircraft Technology (LCAAT) programme, and is scheduled for its first flight in spring of 2018. The Mako, meanwhile, has been flying since late 2015 and is scheduled for follow-on test flights, where it will carry sensors and be teamed with manned aircraft, in the coming months. The system has already been teamed with a McDonnell Douglas (Boeing) AV-8B Harrier II jet for an manned/unmanned teaming demonstration.
Both the Valkyrie and the Mako are highly manoeuvrable (-2 to +9 g), stealthy, able to fly at near supersonic speeds, and can carry and deploy weapons or surveillance systems. The larger Valkyrie is roughly 30 ft long and has a range of more than 3,000 n miles, while the Mako is just over 20 ft long and has a range of up to 1,400 n miles.
Want to read more? For analysis on this article and access to all our insight content, please enquire about our subscription options: ihs.com/contact