Aerial Warfare

Marine Corps XQ-58A Valkyrie Unmanned Air Vehicle Completes Second Successful Flight

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Marine Corps XQ-58A Valkyrie Unmanned Air Vehicle Completes Second Successful Flight

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Marine Corps XQ-58A Valkyrie Unmanned Air Vehicle Completes Second Successful Flight
Marine Corps XQ-58A Valkyrie Unmanned Air Vehicle Completes Second Successful Flight

The Marine Corps’ XQ-58A Valkyrie, a highly autonomous, low-cost tactical unmanned air vehicle, successfully completed its second test flight February 23, 2024 at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. The XQ-58A provides the Marine Corps with a testbed platform for developing technologies and new concepts in support of the Marine Air Ground Task Force, such as autonomous flight and unmanned teaming with crewed aircraft. The Marine Corps’ continued experimentation with the XQ-58 is sponsored under the Department of Defense’s Rapid Defense Experimentation Reserve program, which accelerates the delivery of capabilities to the joint force. Today’s successful flight is a key milestone in implementing Project Eagle, the service’s aviation modernization strategy in support of broader Force Design modernization efforts. The XQ-58A and other Project Eagle research and experimentation platforms will inform capabilities needed in future conflicts out to 2040.

The Marine Corps Warfighting Lab and the Deputy Commandant for Aviation’s Cunningham Group, an internal working group responsible for planning and implementing Project Eagle, played an instrumental role in coordinating across the Department of Defense for support for the flight. This joint collaboration was supported by the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering; the U.S. Air Force’s 40th Flight Test Squadron; the U.S. Air Force’s 96th Test Wing; the Naval Air Systems Command; and the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division’s AIRWorks. This broad team facilitated ongoing research, development, test, and evaluation for the aircraft for its first two flights.

A U.S. Marine Corps XQ-58A Valkyrie, highly autonomous, low-cost tactical unmanned air vehicle, conducts its first test flight with a U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft assigned to 96th Test Wing at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., Oct. 3, 2023.
A U.S. Marine Corps XQ-58A Valkyrie, highly autonomous, low-cost tactical unmanned air vehicle, conducts its first test flight with a U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft assigned to 96th Test Wing at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., Oct. 3, 2023. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Tristan McIntire)

“Working alongside our naval and joint partners is a testament to joint innovation as Marine aviation adapts and evolves to the changing character of conflict. Aligning these test flights with Project Eagle informs future support to the Marine Air Ground Task Force, which guides the foundation for the next Marine Aviation Plan,” said Lt. Col. Gavin Robillard, lead aviation strategy and plans officer for the Cunningham Group.

“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.

Future test flights of the Marine Corps XQ-58A Valkyrie play an integral role in the Marine Corps’ efforts to modernize and enhance capabilities in a rapidly evolving security environment. 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. The XQ-58A is envisioned to 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.

A U.S. Marine Corps XQ-58A Valkyrie, highly autonomous, low-cost tactical unmanned air vehicle, soars overhead during its second test flight at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., Feb. 23, 2023.
A U.S. Marine Corps XQ-58A Valkyrie, highly autonomous, low-cost tactical unmanned air vehicle, soars overhead during its second test flight at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., Feb. 23, 2023. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. John McRell)

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