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AFRL/Kratos XQ-58A Valkyrie to Begin Flight Tests This Autumn

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posted on Mar, 7 2019 @ 10:37 AM
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originally posted by: anzha
a reply to: mightmight

Guam: 2100 miles to Hong Kong.
Okinawa: 900 miles to Hong Kong.

Note: the Valkyrie is meant to fly off of less than ideal airstrips. That opens up a lot.


Attritable and configurable low-observable UAVs are the future. Imagine the Doolittle Raiders in their B-25s, except this time you don’t need carriers, runways, and aircrews. In fact, you as a mission planner aren’t really that concerned whether the strike package comes back at all. Once the mission is complete, if you can recover some vehicles bonus and If not, you’ve got flying bombs. The Kratos bird is a great idea.




posted on Mar, 7 2019 @ 10:56 AM
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a reply to: mightmight

Requirements for LCAAT don't have anything on tanking. Range should be very good. This is more like a new take on a reusable Tacit Rainbow that can be redirected/commanded midflight. Should be generally autonomous still. "Loyal wingman" talk is sort of misapplied here and with Boeing's latest gig downunder.



posted on Mar, 7 2019 @ 10:56 AM
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originally posted by: anzha
a reply to: mightmight

Guam: 2100 miles to Hong Kong.
Okinawa: 900 miles to Hong Kong.

Note: the Valkyrie is meant to fly off of less than ideal airstrips. That opens up a lot.

Kadina just got destroyed by the inital misisle barrage. As did most of those less than ideal and thus totally undefended (island) airstrips in the AO. Andersen cant support more than a couple of dozen fighter jets plus supports.
Back to the drawing board.

They should try for a very, very long range version (4000nm or thereabouts) to launch it from whereever and pair it with the B-21. *cought* MQ-L *cough*
Or develop a carrier based version to beef up the Carrier Air Wings. You know, like the original UCLASS

edit on 7-3-2019 by mightmight because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 7 2019 @ 11:03 AM
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a reply to: mightmight

Last I heard, 3000+ nm was a program goal. This is more about getting some ordinance, or alternatively maybe some sensor or EA packages deep and dirty without worrying about it having to come back. At ~$3M a pop, noone cares if they use them to troll for SAMs, either.




Kadina just got destroyed by the inital misisle barrage. As did most of those less than ideal and thus totally undefended (island) airstrips in the AO. 

LCAAT has a requirement for runway independent. There will be servicing shops, but I would guess that it is highly modular and after recovery they swap out damaged bits for new ones where possible before setting it up for another mobile ZEL launcher.
edit on 7-3-2019 by RadioRobert because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 7 2019 @ 11:25 AM
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a reply to: RadioRobert
Yeah. That idea just adds to the stupidity. Flying full blown UCAVs on suicide missions from some remote island airstrip somehow makes sense, just because they will squeez them out at 3 mi in some alternate universe.
How about we skip all this nonsense, procure 2000 JASSM-XR at 2 mil and call it a day? You know, that kind of weapon that doesn't require an entire air wing of ist own and can be used by assets already in theater anyway?

Look i get it. Its a cool concept. It would without a doubt boost tacair. But the Pacific is not Europe, there is barley enough infrastructure to fall back on for the current flying circus. Adding hundreds of those UAVs just wont work out if you cant even support the bulk of the manned tacair fleet in the AO. As said, long range versions, sure. To fly out of Australia without tanker support if need be. Or give it to the Navy, Carriers are not nearly at capacity anyway. Anything really, just not another fighter jet type platform to support.



edit on 7-3-2019 by mightmight because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 7 2019 @ 11:45 AM
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a reply to: mightmight

My understanding is that it should be nearly fully autonomous from launch; it simply adds the ability to be re-commanded in flight by other assets in the area.

The JASSM route would require you to commit extra assets for the express purpose of launching the missiles. It also lacks the ability to be reprogrammed/directed in flight. And is a single target missile to a pre-designated point. It also, at least publicly, does not carry EA packages. New targets would need new launches, and subsequent launches, and the ordinance is atleast an hour away from 1200 nm launches. And would still have less than half the range/endurance requiring me to get airborne assets int the area. Draining the tankers you were so worried about earlier.

Where as my if I don't care about getting my LCAAT back, it can attack two separate targets, troll for new IADS sites, and be retasked on the fly for any target that happens to pop up without a hours wait time. Or I can just have it dump ordinance from 30 miles out and rtb , using it again to decrease my real cost per launch in a way that a cruise missile can never do.



posted on Mar, 7 2019 @ 11:50 AM
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a reply to: mightmight




Or give it to the Navy, Carriers are not nearly at capacity anyway. Anything really, ...


The Marines are watching very closely. This is exactly the sort of thing they can ship or shore launch and add to the toolbox. We'll see where it goes.



posted on Mar, 7 2019 @ 12:20 PM
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a reply to: RadioRobert

Running short on time but
I'm not so sure that the newer JASSMs dont have a inflight retargeting capability. LRASM has it for sure and its been demonstrated years ago. With CHAMP there is already an EW application for JASSM. You could also loiter them inside enemy territory if you feel like it. Or pair them with MALD-X.
There is nothing the LCAAT can do that cant be done by the existing platforms which be in the fight anyway.



posted on Mar, 7 2019 @ 01:09 PM
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MALD and JASSM are both range limited and both require you to generate sorties for that purpose. You need to get the launch platform to within atleast 500 nm with JASDM and MALD, about double that with the ER/X. The very things you were railing again earlier.

One could launch a LCAAT-type platform from Japan and still have more penetration range than the JASSM-ER launched from 200 nm off the coast of China. Or similar strike range with reusability.

You could conceivably add MALD variants to the payload capability of the LCAAT proposals. They aren't in the same class.

AND because we withdrew from the INF treaty, we do not have to care if they are legally nuclear-incapable or legally a cruise-missile or otherwise limited to be range complaint, and there is nothing stopping us from stockpiling a big pile of them on Taiwan, S.Korea, etc, at semi-dispersed sites. That would let you cover ALL of China without worrying about generating sorties of tac- or strategic air to do it.



posted on Mar, 7 2019 @ 01:20 PM
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Wind tunnel model:



Interesting bit in the inlet.

defense-update.com...
edit on 7-3-2019 by anzha because: forgot link



posted on Mar, 7 2019 @ 02:36 PM
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a reply to: RadioRobert

Ok look at this way. A single B-1 can launch 24 JASSM in one day. And the next day. And the day after that.
That’s equivalent to a whole squadron of these wonderweapons. Not just once, but continuously for however long the missile supply lasts with one aircraft. The US could easily deploy dozens.

Your proposing to use a solution that requires what, ten times the logistical footprint of a single B-1. I don’t how maintenance friendly this UAV is supposed to be, you’ll still end up servicing 24 of them for every B-1 you can get up in the air. Every single day. Without even thinking about attrition.
The math will never work out. I’d choose half a squadron with a throw weight of 200+ standoff weapons over 200 suicide drones without a second thought.

Air Refueling for Strategic Bombers is not an issue really. If you station them in Japan like you propose for the Valkyries they can easily reach a launch point without any tanker support.
The main problem here is refueling the fighter jets those Valkyries are supposed to play with. And logistical capacity on the ground. Would you rather use the available space for an F-35, its dedicated tanker aircraft and 4 Valkyries or for a single B-1?

But again about range. Penetration depth is really a moot point. JASSM-XR will have a range of almost 2000km. Launch it east of Okinawa and you can get anywhere in China you conceivably would want to. And that’s the main point. JASSM-XR. Always try to expand on what is already available before embarking on yet another hail marry procurement enterprise that most likely will fail anyway. The JASSM family is already an incredible versatile weapon system. Build on it as it is required.

Don’t reinvent the wheel just because the new toy could work even better under certain conditions. You can always dream up some contrived scenario in which the new toy can do something the old one isn’t really build for. But so what? We need to look at the whole picture and the challenge at hand, not just at new toys that look great on paper. Yet another fighter jet platform is the wrong tool for the job, period. It doesn’t matter whether it is affordable or versatile. The logistics to handle them are not available. Focus instead on maximizing the existing platforms. Ensure the bomber fleet has enough missiles to rain hell on the Chinese for weeks on end if need be. Yet another fighter sized platform wont do ###.

edit on 7-3-2019 by mightmight because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 7 2019 @ 06:17 PM
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A fighter sized UCAV who can loiter and launch JASSMs on command might be of interest, or one that releases drone swarms over a designated target.
edit on 3/7/2019 by Masisoar because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 8 2019 @ 08:51 AM
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a reply to: Masisoar

The Valkyrie won't be carrying JASSMs. The largest payload I've seen claimed for a Valkyrie is 1000 lbs and most are half that. A JASSM is 2250 lbs.

More info:

aviationweek.com...

breakingdefense.com...



posted on Mar, 8 2019 @ 10:56 AM
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a reply to: mightmight




But again about range...


Range and endurance or time over target are always relevant. Even on a one way ticket the extra 50% range lets me route the weapon anyway I choose. Or with multiple weapons, as is likely, I can approach the target area from multiple directions, which complicates the defense. As is reusability relevant. Why load CHAMP ($$$) on a one-way ticket if you can bring it back on a reusable platform? Even assuming 50% return rate, I have far greater ability on day two. Sustainability is important.
The amount of JASSM's one can put into a given space will always be limited by launch-platform availability, which as you correctly note is subject to support and ties up other assets. Releasing SDB's from 30 mi out gives me a higher survivability than the JASSM which needs to go downtown, while Tor or associated air defense now has 2 weapons to successfully engage instead of one to ensure a mission kill.


48 JASSM, 2-plane flight of B-1B with associated tankage, 48 targets engaged (or ≤24 with multiple per target)

48 LCAAT-style launches equals 96 targets engaged (or ≤48 with redundant targeting), no associated launch vehicle, reusable, sustainable



A one-for-one comparison, either-or, is not the proper way to frame it anyway. The proper framing would be if the maximum number of sorties are generated in a given window of time results in X number of JASSMs available in a given area, then with LCAAT the number of weapons in the air is still X (the JASSMs and launch platforms are still available) + Y (the number of LCAAT deployed)x2 (the number of targets engaged by each). X+2Y is always bigger than X.

Door kicking at the beginning of a campaign is always limited by platforms available, not weapons avoidable. And if the balloon goes up, there will be plenty of missions demanding strategic air assets. Every strategic bomber sortie generated to support ROC forces with JASSM is one not available for targeting Chinese AF airfields, ASu- work, deploying Skipjacks and Flounders, targeting the atoll strongholds, engage strategic targets like POL, etc





1000 lbs 

Probably enough for a couple SDB's internally and two MALD external, if the wings are stressed for it.



posted on Mar, 8 2019 @ 01:44 PM
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a reply to: anzha

That's an awfully simple looking drone. What are the odds that "Loyal Wingman" ends up evolving into a cheap, relatively massproduction-friendly stealth drone (perhaps, one leveraging MALD technology to allow it to "forge" an F-35s signature) that has the potential to be deployed in swarms as the forward (and far more expendable) eyes and teeth of the F-35, with its much less replaceable pilot.

If they could get the per-unit cost to $10 million or less, then they'd really have something interesting.
edit on 8-3-2019 by Barnalby because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 8 2019 @ 02:53 PM
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a reply to: RadioRobert


48 JASSM, 2-plane flight of B-1B with associated tankage, 48 targets engaged (or ≤24 with multiple per target)

48 LCAAT-style launches equals 96 targets engaged (or ≤48 with redundant targeting), no associated launch vehicle, reusable, sustainable

Whats sustainable about it? The B-1B/JASSM solutions includes a whopping two aircraft. You wont need tankers if you launch them from the same bases you would use for the LCAAT. Two aircrafts and missiles/bombs shipped in bulk by sea, that’s sustainable.
The LCAATs approach leaves you with at least 24 aircraft you need to provide logistics for. Including shipping in SDBs and replacement aircraft. That’s a bad joke and just doesn’t add up.


A one-for-one comparison, either-or, is not the proper way to frame it anyway. The proper framing would be if the maximum number of sorties are generated in a given window of time results in X number of JASSMs available in a given area, then with LCAAT the number of weapons in the air is still X (the JASSMs and launch platforms are still available) + Y (the number of LCAAT deployed)x2 (the number of targets engaged by each). X+2Y is always bigger than X.

Of course its not a one for one comparison, it’s an alternate concept that provides the necessary capability with a fraction of the logistical Footprint utilizing capabilities already operational today.

But X+2Y is not always bigger than X since logistical support is finite.
Say you could support either 100 LCAATs or 20 B-1 or any combination thereof with 1 B-1 requiring the same logistical support as 5 LCAATs.
20 B-1 will always give you the most bang for the buck no matter what.

In fact, to even think about it working out, support for one B-1 would have to equal the support for at least 10 LCAATs. I don’t care what they smoke at the AFRL but that’s not happening.


Door kicking at the beginning of a campaign is always limited by platforms available, not weapons avoidable. And if the balloon goes up, there will be plenty of missions demanding strategic air assets. Every strategic bomber sortie generated to support ROC forces with JASSM is one not available for targeting Chinese AF airfields, ASu- work, deploying Skipjacks and Flounders, targeting the atoll strongholds, engage strategic targets like POL, etc

You could argue the same for any platform really, including LCAATs.
The US could conceivable deploy over 100 strategic bombers with a combined throw weight of well over 2500 Standoff weapons on each sortie. To even begin to play in the same league, you’d need at least 1000 LCAATs. And regenerate that fleet after each sortie.
I mean come on. You could get away with stationing 100 B-1s and B-52 in Japan. But a thousand of these drones and F-35s on top to play with them? You can’t be seriously arguing that.


Probably enough for a couple SDB's internally and two MALD external, if the wings are stressed for it.

Or you could do 2000+ SDBs on 10 B-2s… equals at least 500 Valkyries
*weeps silently*
edit on 8-3-2019 by mightmight because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 8 2019 @ 05:52 PM
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a reply to: mightmight




Whats sustainable about it?


The fact the JASSM is in a zillion pieces at $2M+ a pop per whereas the LCAAT isn't?




... from the same bases ...


That's the entire point. I don't need to tie up space on the tarmac anywhere. I can go to a semi-dispersed site around a prepositioned depot. Anywhere I can put a simple launch-rail or the pallet it's loaded on is a launch site. Operations isn't tied to a field, so it might actually survive the initial onslaught. Truck, ship, pad. I can put a bundle of them right where I want them in theatre. On Taiwan. On S.Korea. On Okinawa. I can use it for SEAD/DEAD. I can use it for EW/EA. I can use it stand -alone or tethered to an F-35/F-22, E-3, E-2, B-21, (RQ-180?), (other surveillance platforms?).

You can still throw iron from a Bone from whatever, but how survivable are the airfields in a large-scale conflict? Even as far as Guam, would potentially be a mess if we're talking China/SEA. Probably why Taiwan, Japan, and even SKorea have made overtures about the F-35B.



1 B-1 requiring the same logistical support as 5 LCAATs.


Basis for that number? Seems very arbitrary. I know what turn around times are for target drones, and it is pretty damn quick. Everything is modular; what isn't ready to go just gets swapped out. Including wings, fins, actutators, FCS computers, etc. This doesn't have it's own systems. Everything is going to be a package swap re: sensors, systems. . Fix them at leisure. You need a couple guys a truck (or a boat) and a crane.




Or you could do 2000+ SDBs on 10 B-2s…


Noone is interested in taking a $2,000,000,000.00 B-2 downtown on day one.

If your argument is that strategic air is increasingly more valuable than tactical air in a near-peer engagement, not many people will argue.



posted on Mar, 8 2019 @ 10:20 PM
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Can they launch a stealth cruise missile from a submarine yet? Now that would be an effective game changer in the Pacific.
edit on 3/8/2019 by Masisoar because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 9 2019 @ 09:48 AM
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a reply to: RadioRobert


The fact the JASSM is in a zillion pieces at $2M+ a pop per whereas the LCAAT isn't?

I don’t understand. JASSM-ER cost 1.3 mil. Buy a couple of thousand JASSM-XR and unit cost will be lower than that.


That's the entire point. I don't need to tie up space on the tarmac anywhere. I can go to a semi-dispersed site around a prepositioned depot. Anywhere I can put a simple launch-rail or the pallet it's loaded on is a launch site.

Ok sure. You need to add the cost for the rocket assisted launch capability or whatever but then what? You still need to recover and service them on some airfield. It would be a colossal waste to just use them once as a GLCM.
If you want a cruise missile, buy a cruise missile.

I’m not against that in principle but again, I’d argue to increase the capabilities of existing platforms before jumping on new toys. Put JASSM on VLS, there are barely enough missiles around as is.
Or if you like, boost the carrier air wings. The US is paying for 11 supercarriers - could be 13 in ten years if they were serious about confronting China – only to embark barely 50 short legged fighter jets on them. Add a sorta low cost carrier drone to the arsenal and you could boost wartime strength of the air wings to over 100 aircraft. That’s an actual increase in capability with minimal additional cost.
Get the most out of your assets that are getting deployed anyway before jumping on new stuff


Basis for that number? Seems very arbitrary.

It was arbitrary to illustrate a point. It’s not a target drone. It’s a completely autonomous UCAV with an internal weapons bay and presumably ram coating. It still has an highly advanced engine to keep up with the fighter jets over vast distances that can break and state of the art coms gear. A ton of electronics, sensor package to fly and fight autonomous… color me very sceptic that *everything modular* approach will amount to anything. It never has.
Just as I don’t believe in 3 mil a pop or 3000nm range fully loaded. I tend to favor systems that already exist over betting the farm on unproven concepts. But I’m repeating myself.

We’ll see how it works out. A couple million development cost don’t hurt anyone in the grand scheme of things. The concept has some interesting aspects to be sure, but I don’t think they will be able to deliver what they’re promising.


Noone is interested in taking a $2,000,000,000.00 B-2 downtown on day one.

Well if you get to the point of attacking thousands of targets in mainland China you be better be prepared to risk a hell of a lot more.



posted on Mar, 9 2019 @ 05:28 PM
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Be interesting if they can retrofit existing cruise missiles with its hardware and software packages.Add to the fleets set of tools.



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