Successful attritableONE (XQ-58 Valkyrie) Return to Flight Test Enables Formation Flight With Fifth-Generation Fighters

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Source: U.S. Air Force,
Source: U.S. Air Force,

January 5, 2021 | Originally published by U.S. Army on December 15, 2020

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio – The Air Force Research Laboratory, along with partner Kratos Defense & Security Solutions, Inc., completed the successful fifth flight test of the XQ-58A Valkyrie low-cost unmanned air vehicle demonstrator on December 9, 2020, at Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona.
During the test event, an F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning, the Air Force’s two fifth-generation fighters, formed up off the wings of the smaller Valkyrie as it continued to fly autonomously in formation. This is a major milestone in the service’s efforts to provide low-cost force multipliers in relevant operational environments.
“The experiments today [Dec. 9] represent a first step in demonstrating the potential of attritable aircraft as a force multiplier in a manned/unmanned environment,” said Brig. Gen. Heather Pringle, AFRL Commander. “We’re impressed with the close collaboration of industry, the Air Force Test Center, the acquisition community, and AFRL that helped get us here.” 
The Valkyrie met 80% of the overall flight test objectives, with 100% of the formation flying objectives being met before safely landing in the Arizona desert, according to AFRL XQ-58A Program Manager Michael Wipperman.
“As the ABMS attritableONE Product Lead and XQ-58 Valkyrie AFRL Program Manager, I’m proud of the partnership with AFLCMC, the Air Force Test Center, and our Air Force Acquisition and industry partners, and the team’s ability to go from concept to demonstration in six months,” said Wipperman. “This was the fifth successful launch of the Valkyrie but the first time the platform has integrated a new warfighting capability payload and flown in formation with an F-22 and F-35.”

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