Navy orders two Kratos unmanned combat aircraft and sensors to work together with manned jet fighters

Jan. 5, 2023
The XQ-58A delivers a combination of long-range, high-speed, and maneuverability that can deploy weapons from its internal bomb bay and wing stations.

PATUXENT RIVER NAS, Md. – U.S. Navy aerial warfare experts are ordering two unmanned combat aircraft from Kratos Defense & Security Solutions Inc. in San Diego as penetrating affordable autonomous collaborative killer aircraft.

Officials of the Naval Air Warfare Aircraft Division at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Md., announced a $15.5 million contract to Kratos on Friday for two XQ-58A Valkyrie unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) with sensor and weapon system payloads.

The XQ-58 is an experimental stealthy unmanned combat aircraft built originally for the U.S. Air Force Low-Cost Attritable Strike Demonstrator program to help break the escalating cost of combat aircraft, and to provide an unmanned escort or wingman aircraft to assist crewed fighter aircraft in combat.

The XQ-58A delivers a combination of long-range, high-speed, and maneuverability that can deploy weapons from its internal bomb bay and wing stations. The XQ-58A demonstrator first flew in March 2019 at Yuma Proving Ground, Ariz.

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Air Force Low-Cost Attritable Strike Demonstrator program is part of the Air Force Research Laboratory Low Cost Attritable Aircraft Technology (LCAAT) project to design and build unmanned combat aircraft quickly.

The role of the LCAAT is to escort advanced combat aircraft like the U.S. F-22 or F-35 during combat missions, and to deploy weapons or provide surveillance.

The XQ-58A is controlled by a crewed aircraft on missions like scouting, defensive fire, or absorbing enemy fire if attacked. Its stealthy trapezoidal fuselage, chined edge, V-tail, and S-shaped air intake help veil the aircraft from enemy sensors.

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The plane can deploy as part of a swarm of unmanned aircraft, with or without direct pilot control. The XQ-58 can take off and land from conventional runways, from land launchers, or from surface ships at sea.

The XQ-58A weighs 2,500 pounds, and can carry 600 pounds of fuel, weapons, and sensors. It is 30 feet long, has a wingspan of 27 feet, can fly as fast as 476 knots, has a range of 3,000 nautical miles, and can fly as high as 45,000 feet.

For more information contact Kratos online at www.kratosdefense.com/about/divisions/unmanned-systems, or the Naval Air Warfare Aircraft Division-Patuxent River at www.navair.navy.mil/nawcad.

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