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XQ-58A Valkyrie: The AI drone which may help US forces against China

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NEW DELHI: The Russia-Ukraine was has made the world aware about importance of drones. The Ukraine military has successfully used low cost drones to take on the powerful Russian military. Taking cue from Ukraine, the US is also planning to use drones in future wars.
According to US deputy secretary of defence Kathleen Hicks, Pentagon plans to field thousands of drones within the next two years to help counter China’s numerical edge in personnel and military hardware.
Beijing’s main advantage is “mass: More ships. More missiles. More people,” Hicks said at a military technology conference in Washington.
“We’ll counter the PLA’s mass with mass of our own, but ours will be harder to plan for, harder to hit, harder to beat,” she said, referring to the Chinese military.
According to a report in the New York Times, the US Air Force is planning to build 1,000 to 2,000 new generation of AI drones for as little as $3 million apiece, or a fraction of the cost of an advanced fighter, which is why some at the Air Force call the program “affordable mass.”
One of the most important AI drones is XQ-58A Valkyrie.
The XQ-58A Valkyrie is an experimental stealth unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) designed and built by Kratos Defence & Security Solutions for the United States Air Force’s Low Cost Attritable Strike Demonstrator (LCASD) program, under the USAF Research Laboratory’s Low Cost Attritable Aircraft Technology (LCAAT) project portfolio. It was initially designated the XQ-222. The Valkyrie completed its first flight on 5 March 2019 at Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona.
The XQ-58A is a small, single-engine aircraft with a blended wing-body design. It is designed to be stealthy and to fly at high speeds and altitudes. The aircraft is equipped with a variety of sensors, including a radar and electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) camera. It can also carry a variety of weapons, including air-to-air missiles and bombs.
Loyal wingman
The main objectives of the LCASD program are to design and manufacture UCAVs faster and cheaper by using advanced design tools and commercial manufacturing processes. The XQ-58A is intended to serve as a loyal wingman that can accompany manned fighter jets in combat missions and perform tasks such as scouting, defensive fire, or absorbing enemy fire.
The XQ-58A has a maximum launch weight of 2,722 kg (6,000 lb) and a maximum speed of Mach 0.72. It has a range of more than 4,000 km (2,500 mi) and an endurance of more than 10 hours. It can fly at altitudes of up to 13,700 m (45,000 ft). The XQ-58A can be produced at a unit cost of $4 million at an annual production rate of 50 aircraft, and possibly for less than $2 million if over 100 airframes are built per year.
The XQ-58A is designed to be a low-cost, expendable aircraft. It is intended to be used in high-risk missions, such as strikes against enemy air defences. The aircraft is also designed to be easily repaired or replaced.
The XQ-58A is still in development, but it has the potential to revolutionize the way the Air Force fights wars. The aircraft’s low cost and expendable nature could make it a valuable asset in future conflicts.
Here are some of the key features of the XQ-58A Valkyrie:
Stealthy design: The XQ-58A is designed to be stealthy, making it difficult for enemy radars to detect. This will allow the aircraft to fly closer to enemy targets without being detected.
High speed: The XQ-58A can fly at speeds of up to 1,050 kilometers per hour (650 miles per hour). This will allow it to quickly reach and strike enemy targets.
High altitude: The XQ-58A can fly at altitudes of up to 60,000 feet (18,000 meters). This will allow it to operate above enemy air defences.
Versatile payload: The XQ-58A can carry a variety of weapons, including air-to-air missiles, air-to-surface missiles, and bombs. This will allow it to be used for a variety of missions, such as air-to-air combat, ground attack, and electronic warfare.
Low cost: The XQ-58A is designed to be a low-cost aircraft. This will make it more affordable to operate and replace than traditional manned aircraft.
The XQ-58A Valkyrie is a significant development in the field of unmanned combat aerial vehicles. The aircraft’s low cost, stealthy design, and high speed and altitude make it a potential game-changer in future conflicts.
(With inputs from agencies)



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