USMC Announces Second Successful Flight of XQ-58A “Valkyrie” in Testing for Future Conflict Capabilities

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The United States Marine Corps has announced that the experimental autonomous UAV XQ-58A “Valkyrie” has successfully completed its second test flight from Eglin Air Force Base in Florida last week for its Penetrating Affordable Autonomous Collaborative Killer – Portfolio program.

What is the XQ-58A?

The XQ-58A XQ-58A “Valkyrie” is an experimental, autonomous UAV being developed under the USAF Research Laboratory’s Low Cost Attritable Aircraft Technology program, but is being experimented with by the USMC under the Department of Defense’s Rapid Defense Experimentation Reserve program for “Project Eagle,” which is the USMC’s aviation modernization strategy for future conflicts.

The system would serve as a “loyal wingman” to manned fighter platforms and be used to carry out ISR, electronic warfare, or kinetic operations.

In a statement, the USMC said that the XQ-58A has a total of six planned test flights, which will evaluate “the effectiveness of autonomous electronic support to crewed platforms like the USMC F-35B Lightning II and the potential for AI-enabled platforms to augment combat air patrols,” as well as “provide capability to the Marine Air Ground Task Force that ranges from electronic warfare support to delivering or supporting lethal fires and kill chains – key contributions to other service-level research and development programs such as the Penetrating Affordable Autonomous Collaborative Killer Portfolio.”

The XQ-58A has already undergone several test flights for the Air Force and demonstrated “an AI-enabled, high-performance, uncrewed air vehicle for the DoD and demonstrated standard aviation tasks, navigation tasks, and safety guardrails for risk mitigation and safety build-up.” Likewise, it had undergone testing for its “artificial intelligence-enabled air combat” capabilities using “simulated opponents using simulated mission systems and simulated weapons.”

“The future battlespace demands new aviation platforms that embrace the austere environment and bring the fight to the enemy at a place of our choosing,” said Lt. Col. Bradley Buick, future capabilities officer for the Cunningham Group.