The Marines’ New Budget Friendly XQ-58A Valkyrie Drone

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The Marine Corps’ cost-effective XQ-58A Valkyrie drone is a game-changer in unmanned aviation that offers autonomy and affordability.

US Marine Corps completed the first test flight of the XQ-58A Valkyrie drone, marking an advancement in its pursuit of cost-effective unmanned systems. The Valkyrie is a robotic aircraft designed for various missions that aims to provide a budget-friendly alternative to the military’s unmanned aircraft inventory.

Scott Bey, a prototyping and experimentation portfolio manager at OUSD said: “This XQ-58A test flight and the data collected today not only help to inform future requirements for the Marine Corps. It fuels continued joint innovation and experimentation opportunities and demonstrates the agility that can be achieved through partnership.”

The Valkyrie drone also boasts a high level of autonomy; Marine Corps officials emphasize that it can operate with minimal human intervention thanks to advanced artificial intelligence capabilities, a feature that positions it as a versatile asset capable of taking on missions typically reserved for crewed aircraft or serve as a complementary wingman alongside traditional crewed aircraft.

The Marine Corps is actively modernizing its forces to prepare for potential conflicts with technologically advanced adversaries (like China), and a critical part of this effort is the integration of robots and drones into Marine operations. The Valkyrie drone plays a vital role in this transformation, enhancing the Corps’ ability to adapt and compete in the evolving global landscape.

Lt. Col. Donald Kelly, Headquarters Marine Corps Aviation Cunningham Group and Advanced Development Team has stated: “The Marine Corps constantly seeks to modernize and enhance its capabilities in a rapidly evolving security environment. Testing the XQ-58 Valkyrie determines requirements for a highly autonomous, low-cost tactical UAS that compliments the need for agile, expeditionary and lethal capabilities in support of both the Marine Corps’ stand-in force operations in austere environments and the Joint Force.”

The Marine Corps reportedly plans to hold six test flights with the Valkyrie to assess its ability to support intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions, as well as explore the potential for the Valkyrie to serve as a reliable robotic wingman in various operational scenarios.