XQ-58A Valkyrie suffers mishap, next test flight delayed

By Sara Sirota / October 10, 2019 at 3:49 PM

(Editor's Note: This blog post has been updated to include a statement from XQ-58A provider Kratos.)

The Air Force is conducting a safety investigation into the XQ-58A Valkyrie after the aircraft was damaged during a flight test at Yuma Proving Ground, AZ, yesterday.

The next demonstration will be delayed until officials complete their study, according to a statement released by the Air Force today. It attributes the mishap to "high surface winds and a malfunction of the vehicle's provisional flight test recovery system."

"In final descent, the prototype cushion system, which was employed for the initial test series but is not intended for ultimate operational use, suffered an anomaly resulting in the aircraft sustaining damage upon touchdown," XQ-58A provider Kratos said in a separate statement.

The company added that an initial evaluation showed the issue is "fully repairable." It will work with the subcontractor to improve the cushion system prior to the next demonstration.

Despite the mishap, the Air Force and Kratos consider the recent test to be a success.

"This third flight successfully completed its objectives and expanded the envelope from the first two flights," Air Force Research Lab Commander William Cooley said in the service's notice. "We have gathered a great deal of valuable data from the flight and will even learn from this mishap."

The XQ-58A is a demonstrator for the Air Force's Low Cost Attritable Aircraft Test program.