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At About $15M per Unit, the XQ-58 Valkyrie Drone is Considered "Attritable"

XQ-58A Valkyrie "attritable" drone at Elgin AFB demonstrating ability to take-off without a runway.

The XQ-58A Valkyrie Drone is reusable, but its $15.5M per unit cost means that that the Air Force will be willing to use it for high risk /high value missions where there is considerable risk of losing the aircraft. With a max speed of approximately 652 mph, its 3500 mile range it has considerable endurance and can loiter in its mission/target area for many hours.

The Valkyries were developed by the Air Force Research Laboratory in conjunction with San Diego-based Kratos Defense to be a high-speed, low-cost aircraft developed for the AFRL’s Low-Cost Attritable Aircraft Technology (LCAAT) project.

According to a statement from Kratos:

“The LCAAT portfolio was established to break the escalating cost trajectory of tactically relevant aircraft and provide an unmanned escort or wingman aircraft alongside a crewed fighter aircraft in combat,”

According to the Air Force:

"This low-maintenance, reusable vehicle is an example of an “attritable” aircraft designed to be used for several missions, but built at a cost that permits it to be a combat loss. This long range aircraft is designed for high speeds and agile maneuverability,"

If necessary The XQ-58A's can operate without a runway using rockets to get airborne , then switching over to a turbofan engine. Designed to be modular, they carry a wide variety of payloads that will enable them to:

  • Execute intelligence / surveillance missions

  • Act as a communications relay

  • Escort fighters

  • Execute high risk strike missions using a variety of weapons including the small diameter bomb

  • Act as intermediary for F-35 and F-22 fighters, allowing them communicate with each other via the Valkyrie's special gateway payload, something not otherwise possible without an intermediary aircraft.

  • Many other potential missions not disclosed by the Pentagon


Some observers believe the XQ-58A Valkyrie to look similar to the Thunderbird 2 featured in the 1966 Thunderbird Series.

Valkyrie XQ-58a (lower) vs Thunderbird 2 (upper)


Two XQ-58A Valkyrie drones have already been purchased the the United States Marines to investigate future autonomous drone use in Marine Corps operations.

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