XQ-58A Valkyrie Drone Launches Small Drone As Kamikaze

XQ-58A Valkyrie Drone
XQ-58A Valkyrie Drone

Militarymedia.net - The XQ-58 can launch mini drones smaller than its internal weapons bay, a new advance that could help the US Air Force win future battles.

The US Air Force's XQ-58A Valkyrie drone can launch mini-drones from its internal weapons bay, marking a breakthrough in the now growing and highly prioritized arena of unmanned cooperation. The aim of the cooperation is to coordinate autonomous drone launches and operate a mini drone companion platform while working closely with human operators.

The Air Force Research Lab's successful test, which took place March 26 at Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona, was actually the sixth test flight for the Valkyrie and “first release” from the internal weapons bay, according to a US Air Force report cited by The National Interest.

The Valkyrie launches Kratos' ALTIUS-600 mini drone which the US Air Force describes as the first opening of the internal weapons bay. The Valkyrie continues to complete additional "test points" and is flying "higher and faster" than during previous flights, the service report said. The ability to launch drones from drones is significant, as manned fighters like the previous F-16 were capable of launching small Perdix drones.

However, engineering an air-launched drone, which is also recoverable, is a significant advance.

This suggests a number of interesting and significant tactical possibilities, as drone-launched drones can operate as mini-scout reconnaissance nodes in highly hostile areas or at high threat amid enemy fire.

Not only does that drone stand a better chance of not being shot down due to its small size, but a small drone like this can even serve as a weapon. The Valkyrie is configured to drop bombs and fire weapons as part of the operational scope of the unmanned cooperation.

Available data says the twenty-eight foot long Valkyrie can reach speeds as fast as 650 mph and strike with JDAM (Joint Direct Attack Munitions) or even Small Diameter Bombs.

According to Kris Osborne of The National Interest, this is significant in several ways as it adds a whole new layer of operations to manned-unmanned cooperation. The Valkyrie itself has been developed as a "loyal wingman" type of platform, which means it will immediately be operated from the cockpit of a manned fighter such as the F-22 or F-35 stealth fighter to carry out forward surveillance, expand mission coverage, or even shoot and drop weapons in enemy territory.

Now, with this latest Valkyrie trial, there is the potential for the arrival of an unmanned, multi-layered team type where any operational level can venture further into enemy territory, while sending back real-time images to the targeting data network.

Senior Air Force leaders consistently discuss the unprecedented value-added propositions introduced by new platforms such as the Valkyrie, as they are specifically designed to progressively advance the operational curve.

“The aim is to continue experimenting to support missions that we are unable to undertake at this time. This is a new class of vehicles for training expanded mission capabilities, ”Chris Ristich, Director of the Office of Transformation Capabilities and Director of Strategic Development Planning & Experiments, told reporters last year at the Air Force Research Laboratory media event during the 2020 Air Force Association's annual Conference.

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