The Marine Corps flew its first XQ-58A Valkyrie combat drone earlier this week and it flew “as expected,” according to a spokesman. The “highly autonomous” Valkyrie is controlled by artificial intelligence and needs little input from humans. It’s also relatively inexpensive ($6.5 million), making it “attritable” or expendable on the battlefield. “This low-maintenance, reusable vehicle is an example of an ‘attritable’ aircraft designed to be used for several missions, but built at a cost that permits it to be a combat loss,” a fact sheet says.

It was developed as part of an overall campaign to “break the escalating cost trajectory of tactically relevant aircraft.” The aircraft, developed by the Air Force Research Laboratory and Kratos Defense & Security Solutions Inc., first flew in 2019 and is now being delivered. The fact sheet is short on specifics about performance and armament but says it’s a “long range aircraft is designed for high speeds and agile maneuverability, enabling it to perform a variety of missions.” It also takes off from an inclined track on a flatbed trailer and doesn’t need a runway.

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.


    • “The drone uses a parachute recovery system to get back on the ground, with inflatable airbags helping to cushion it when it touches down.”

      • And I have to agree with both of you. With modern technology, I would think $10K could buy an awful lot of capability, and at that price, we could buy 610 of them for every “expendable” $6.1 mil drone. the military, of which I proudly was once a part, always prefers the most expensive option, and just can’t think “small and nimble”.