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US Air Force XQ-58A Valkyrie suffers damage following third flight

11 October 2019
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The Kratos XQ-58A Valkyrie has accumulated 270 minutes of flight time in three flights over three demonstrations. Source: US Air Force

Key Points

  • The XQ-58A Valkyrie suffered damage after landing in high surface winds
  • The prototype cushion system, which is not intended for operational use, had an anomaly in final descent

The US Air Force's (USAF's) Kratos XQ-58A Valkyrie long-range, high subsonic, unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) demonstrator was damaged after a 9 October flight when high surface winds and a malfunction of the vehicle's provisional flight test recovery system resulted in a mishap after landing.

After successful completion of the flight, the recovery parachute system worked flawlessly and the aircraft descended nominally under the canopy system, Kratos said in an 11 October statement. In final descent, the prototype cushion system, which was employed for the initial test series but is not intended for ultimate operational use, suffered an anomaly resulting in the aircraft sustaining damage upon touchdown.

The Valkyrie is designed to be quickly repaired and reused if damage is sustained after performing operational missions. The aircraft has been recovered and the damage has been initially evaluated and determined to be fully repairable. Kratos plans to address the cushion system prior to the XQ-58A's fourth flight and complete its test flight series with the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) while continuing to execute with its other Valkyrie customers.

The XQ-58A executed a perfect launch and met all 56 baseline test points, plus two additional test points with excess fuel remaining after completion of the mission. The third flight continued to expand the envelope, successfully pushing the flight demonstrator to higher speeds and altitudes to further test the system, according to a USAF statement. The aircraft has now recorded 270 minutes of flight time.

The scheduled fourth flight of the Valkyrie will be delayed until the conclusion of a safety investigation. The USAF did not return a request for comment prior to publication.

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