Author Topic: USAF looking at serious combat drones including "loyal wingman"  (Read 824 times)

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Online MarkOttawa

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Some really serious new UCAV doctrine being worked on here it seems, cool looking plane (name has cool history too )--several links at original:
Air Force's Secretive XQ-58A Valkyrie Experimental Combat Drone Emerges After First Flight
The QX-58 may lead to a whole new class of highly-flexible and affordable unmanned combat air

Just a week after Boeing unveiled their export-centric 'loyal wingman' combat drone concept [ ], the Air Force Research Lab has announced that their own similar endeavor, dubbed the XQ-58A Valkyrie, has made its first flight. It also posted the very first image of the aircraft that has been developed under a veil of secrecy over the last two and half years.

A press release from the USAF about the aircraft's first flight reads:

    "The XQ-58A Valkyrie demonstrator, a long-range, high subsonic unmanned air vehicle completed its inaugural flight March 5, 2019 at Yuma Proving Grounds, Arizona. The Air Force Research Laboratory partnered with Kratos Unmanned Aerial Systems to develop the XQ-58A.

    This joint effort falls within the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Low Cost Attritable Aircraft Technology (LCAAT) portfolio, which has the objective to break the escalating cost trajectory of tactically relevant aircraft. The objectives of the LCAAT initiative include designing and building UAS faster by developing better design tools, and maturing and leveraging commercial manufacturing processes to reduce build time and cost.

    Developed for runway independence, the aircraft behaved as expected and completed 76 minutes of flight time. The time to first flight took a little over 2.5 years from contract award. The XQ-58A has a total of five planned test flights in two phases with objectives that include evaluating system functionality, aerodynamic performance, and launch and recovery systems.

    'XQ-58A is the first example of a class of UAV that is defined by low procurement and operating costs while providing game changing combat capability,” said Doug Szczublewski, AFRL’s XQ-58A Program Manager.'"

Beyond finally breaking cover as the USAF's 'attritable' unmanned combat air vehicle concept, the XQ-58A is really the first Air Force UCAV concept we have seen since all the momentum towards fielding any sort of this type of hugely promising aircraft suddenly dematerialized the better part of a decade ago. The XQ-58A very likely represents the low-end on the USAF's shadowy UCAV programs.

It is hoped that the XQ-58A will provide a low cost surveillance, strike, and electronic warfare support capability that can be operated independently, as a cooperative swarm, or as part of a so called 'loyal wingman' concept of operations a group of Q-58s would work under the command of a nearby manned combat aircraft. The stealthy drone, which supposedly has a range of well over 2,000 miles and is capable of carrying a pair of Small Diameter Bombs or electronic warfare and surveillance gear, is also capable of being launched using rocket boosters instead of relying on runways alone...

Ça explique, mais ça n'excuse pas.

Offline daftandbarmy

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Re: USAF looking at serious combat drones including "loyal wingman"
« Reply #1 on: March 07, 2019, 17:43:17 »
Some really serious new UCAV doctrine being worked on here it seems, cool looking plane (name has cool history too )--several links at original:

I first heard about this concept in 1987 at Shrivenham and thought it was simply an awesome idea. Now that it's coming to fruition?

Still awesome  :nod:
"The most important qualification of a soldier is fortitude under fatigue and privation. Courage is only second; hardship, poverty and want are the best school for a soldier." Napoleon

Offline Chris Pook

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Re: USAF looking at serious combat drones including "loyal wingman"
« Reply #2 on: March 07, 2019, 18:03:13 »
It does add some "colour" to the discussions about Warthogs and Armed Turboprops in the Ground Combat support roles.

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Offline Thucydides

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Re: USAF looking at serious combat drones including "loyal wingman"
« Reply #3 on: March 14, 2019, 20:18:55 »
I am a fan of the Navy's "Stingray" UAV. While it was designed to be a tanker for air to air refueling, the large internal volume means there is potential to use it in a multitude of other roles. Flying sensor platform, EW and ECM platform, "arsenal plane" carrying large numbers of bombs or missiles. In the future, there might even be the ability to mount a laser or railgun weapon on the platform, using the generous internal volume for the electronics needed to make it work.

These would still be "loyal wingmen", just larger and more versatile.
Dagny, this is not a battle over material goods. It's a moral crisis, the greatest the world has ever faced and the last. Our age is the climax of centuries of evil. We must put an end to it, once and for all, or perish - we, the men of the mind. It was our own guilt. We produced the wealth of the world - but we let our enemies write its moral code.