Kratos Defense and Security Solutions Inc is expecting first test flight of its $2-3 million combat jet “loyal wingman” in next week, an executive said on Thursday.
Kratos’s plan came on very next day after Boeing Co on Wednesday unveiled development of a model of its larger drone in Australia that would fly alongside manned planes in combats. Though Boeing did not disclose the sale price of its planned drone which is expected to take off in next year to make its first flight but it is expected to be between $8 million to $10 million, according to industry experts.
But the range of Kratos’ XQ-58A Valkyrie is longer than planned range of 2,000 nautical miles by Boeing’s drone and also the drone developed by Kratos, a major player in target drones, will also be smaller in size which would be launched like rockets and uses parachute to land, rather using runway to take-off or land.
There are possibilities of Valkyrie and Boeing’s aircraft, besides having different capabilities and costs, both could convoy with advanced fighter jets like Lockheed Martin Corp F-35, Jeff Herro, Kratos’s senior vice president for business development said.
Around the world, militaries are looking for cheaper and safer ways to make best use of their resources which led the defense contractors to make more investments in autonomous technology.
Valkyrie is designed to be expandable in some situations which is termed as “attritable” by the Kratos, who spent over $30 million on development of Valkyrie.
Kratos is estimating formal purchase tender for Vlakyrie to be issued in next two years by the U.S. Air Force, who has also made investment to build the demonstration aircraft.
The Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies in the United States last year suggested the U.S. Air Force to explore combining manned and unmanned aircraft to expand its fleet which will help to set off the limited number of most advanced aircraft like the F-35.