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06 Oct 2023

Marine Corps XQ-58A Valkyrie Completes First Flight

Marine Corps XQ-58A Valkyrie Completes First Flight
Photo Courtesy U.S. Marine Corps photo by Master Sgt. Tristan McIntire, 96th Test Wing, 40th Flight Test Squadron
The United States Marine Corps Press Release

The Marine Corps XQ-58A Valkyrie, a highly autonomous, low-cost tactical unmanned air vehicle successfully completed its first test flight October 3, 2023, at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. The Marine Corps partnered with the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering (OUSD(R&E)), the Naval Air Systems Command and Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) to facilitate the ongoing research, development, test and evaluation of the Marine Corps XQ-58A Valkyrie. 

This joint collaboration was supported by the 40th Flight Test Squadron, 96th Test Wing and the NAWCAD. This flight marks a key milestone in the Marine Corps’ Penetrating Affordable Autonomous Collaborative Killer – Portfolio (PAACK-P) program. Future test flights inform Marine Corps XQ-58A Valkyrie requirements for the Marine Air-Ground Task Force Unmanned Aerial System Expeditionary (MUX) Tactical Aircraft (TACAIR).  

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

The aircraft performed as expected. The XQ-58A has a total of six planned test flights with objectives that include evaluating the platform’s ability to support a variety of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) missions; the effectiveness of autonomous electronic support to crewed platforms; the potential for AI-enabled platforms to augment combat air patrols; and continuing to mature other manned-unmanned teaming (MUM-T) capability objectives. 

The Marine Corps received the first of two XQ-58A unmanned aerial systems (UAS) on March 14, 2023, to support platform prototyping and integration efforts for the PAACK-P program. 

“The Marine Corps constantly seeks to modernize and enhance its capabilities in a rapidly evolving security environment,” said Lt. Col. Donald Kelly, Headquarters Marine Corps Aviation Cunningham Group and Advanced Development Team. “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.” 

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