The concept of fighter drones has long been thought of as nothing more than the stuff of science fiction movies and comic books. But all that may change with the XQ-58A Valkyrie, the all-new jet-powered drone that could accompany fighter pilots into combat. The United States Air Force has successfully conducted tests to gauge the capabilities of the unmanned drone and liked what it saw.
It was developed by collaboration between Air Force Research Laboratory and Kratos Unmanned Aerial Systems to fulfill the roles of a remote-controlled fighter, bomber or even that of a surveillance platform. Moreover, it can also operate an electronic warfare package in addition to bombs and can be launched from a runway or from a rocket. The Valkyrie is intended to serve as a wingman for pilots in various roles like providing fire support, scouting out the skies and even absorb incoming enemy fire to keep the pilots safe. The XQ-58A Valkyrie has a range of about 2500 miles and a top speed of 652 mph. Costing about $3 million each, the Valkyrie is significantly cheaper than fighter planes which can easily cost $100 million each.
The XQ-58A can be operated individually or even as a group by pilots flying group missions. These would definitely augment a squadron’s capabilities and help to protect human pilots.