XQ-58A Valkyrie maiden sortie with F-22 and F-35

U.S. Air Force photo

A flight test campaign involving an XQ-58A Valkyrie experimental combat drone, a U.S. Marine Corps F-35B, an Air Force F-22 Raptor, and F-35A Lightning II took place over the U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona. The goal was to demonstrate the capability of the gatewayONE payload to communicate with fifth-generation fighter jets.

During the tests, the F-22 and F-35A flew in formation with the XQ-58A Valkyrie. The two fighters successfully share their data through gatewayONE. The drone was also fitted with the same payload but lost connectivity after takeoff.

“Testing is all about pushing the limits of what’s possible, finding out where the toughest challenges are, and adapting creative solutions to overcoming difficult problem sets,” Stowe said. “The real win of the day was seeing the gatewayONE establish a secure two-way translational data path across multiple platforms and multiple domains.” 

Developed for the United States Air Force by the company Kratos Defense & Security Solutions, the XQ-58A Valkyrie is a stealth combat drone intended for use as an expendable wingman for piloted fighter aircraft. As such, its ability to communicate with other platforms is crucial.

Other tests included “establishing a communications pathway between the KC-46 Pegasus tanker and a ground node using commercial internet routing standards over the Tactical Targeting Network Technology waveform and the F-35B sending full-motion video to a ground controller,” as explained by the Air Force in a press release. Nine out of the 18 test objectives set out for the campaign were achieved.

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