Jeff Herro, senior vice president for business development at Kratos Defense and Security Solutions, said the company expects to conduct the initial flight test of its unmanned “loyal wingman“ combat jet in the first week of March, Reuters reported Thursday.
Kratos built the XQ-58A Valkyrie drone to support aircraft teaming and accompany a manned aircraft in various operations.
Herro announced the scheduled test for Valkyrie after Boeing unveiled a model of a larger drone designed for the same manned-unmanned aircraft teaming.
Kratos' aircraft is reportedly smaller and offers a longer range than Boeing's planned 2K nautical miles. The San Diego, Calif.-based company said it designed Valkyrie to be “attritable“ or expandable for multiple missions.
However, Herro noted Kratos will not compete against Boeing in the same market. He said Valkyrie and Boeing's aircraft could actually accompany a single advanced fighter jet due to differences in their capabilities.
“This is a different market,“ he said. “Our whole plan is to extend the mission capability sets of exquisite fighters.“
The U.S. Air Force is expected to announce plans to acquire Kratos' unmanned aircraft technology within the next two years.