US Marine Corps experimental Kratos XQ-58A Valkyrie ‘Loyal Wingman’ drone makes first flight


The U.S. Marine Corps conducted its first test flight of the Kratos XQ-58A Valkyrie unmanned aerial vehicle on October 2, 2023, from Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, Aaron-Matthew Lariosa reports in USNI News. This test flight, supported by the Air Force and Navy, is part of the Marine Corps' efforts to implement new concepts outlined in Force Design 2030, as proposed by former Commandant Gen. David Berger. These concepts include Expeditionary Advanced Basing Operations against near-peer adversaries.

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US Marine Corps Experimental Kratos XQ 58A Valkyrie Loyal Wingman drone makes first flight 1 U.S. Marines Kratos XQ-58A Valkyrie in formation with a U.S. Air Force F-16 on Oct. 2, 2023 (Picture source: USMC)


The primary goal of testing the XQ-58 Valkyrie is to evaluate its potential as a highly autonomous and cost-effective tactical unmanned aircraft system (UAS) for the Marine Corps. This UAS aims to enhance the Marine Corps' operations in challenging environments and support stand-in force missions.

The testing involved six flight evaluations, which assessed Valkyrie's capabilities in intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance (ISR), electronic support for manned platforms, integration of artificial intelligence in combat air patrols, and its ability for manned-unmanned teaming. This testing not only gathered valuable data for future requirements but also emphasized the importance of collaborative innovation within the military.

The Marine Corps ordered two Valkyries for testing purposes as part of the Rapid Defense Experimentation Reserve program. These drones are intended to support the Marine Air-Ground Task Force Unmanned Aerial System Expeditionary (MUX) Tactical Aircraft program. Additionally, the Navy has ordered two Valkyries for its experimentation purposes, aligning with the Marine Corps' objectives. The XQ-58A Valkyrie is one of several unmanned aerial systems being explored by the Marine Corps, demonstrating their commitment to modernizing their capabilities in unmanned aviation.


US Marine Corps Experimental Kratos XQ 58A Valkyrie Loyal Wingman drone makes first flight 2 U.S. Marines Kratos XQ-58A Valkyrie (Picture source: USMC)