The unmanned aircraft, called a Valkyrie, first flew in March 2019 and flew a total of three or four times — accounts vary.
A product of Kratos
The Air Force has other XQ-58A aircraft in its inventory, and continues to experiment with them. Kratos is proud of its aircraft. It occupies a prime spot on the company homepage.
The Attritable Aircraft
The unmanned XQ-58A is intended to be a “wingman” for piloted jets. It is also a low-cost aircraft — by various estimates costing $2 million to $3 million — and therefore “attritable.” In other words, it is inexpensive enough for the military to lose one in combat.
By contrast, state-of-the-art stealth fighters such as Lockheed Martin Corp.’s F-35 Lightning II are very expensive. Members of the military often call such manned systems “exquisite.”
The XQ-58A was designed, built and demonstrated very quickly. It was only two and a half years from contract award to first flight. Kratos collaborated with the Air Force Research Laboratory on the project.
The Valkyrie is 30 feet long, has a wingspan of 27 feet, and has a maximum weight at launch of 6,000 pounds. It can carry 600 pounds of internal payload.
Kratos, based in Scripps Ranch, builds its unmanned aircraft in Sacramento and at a new facility in Oklahoma. Kratos’ unmanned systems business generated $231.9 million in revenue last year — roughly one quarter of its $811.5 million total revenue.
Unmanned systems revenue at the company grew 24% from 2020.
At the end of the 2021, total backlog for the Kratos Unmanned Systems segment stood at $269.6 million, up from $237.9 million at the end of 2020.
Kratos produces other unmanned aircraft as well, including target drones for military training.
Kratos Defense & Security Solutions Inc.
CEO: Eric DeMarco
HEADQUARTERS: Scripps Ranch
BUSINESS: Defense contractor
REVENUE: $811.5 million in 2021; $747.7 million in 2020
STOCK: KTOS on NASDAQ
EMPLOYEES: 72 in San Diego
CONTACT: 858- 812-7300
NOTABLE: The company also produces unmanned ground vehicles