Military Embedded Systems

UAS launches smaller drone from its weapons bay in test, Air Force reports


April 06, 2021

Lisa Daigle

Assistant Managing Editor

Military Embedded Systems

Photo courtesy U.S. Air Force.

U.S. ARMY YUMA PROVING GOUND -- YUMA, Ariz. The U.S. Air Force reported that during a late-March 2021 test, the Kratos XQ-58A Valkyrie unmanned aircraft system (UAS) platform successfully launched an even smaller unmanned aircraft from inside its the Valkyrie's internal weapons bay.

During the Valkyrie’s sixth flight test at the Yuma Proving Ground, it opened its payload doors while aloft for the first time and released an ALTIUS-600, a small, tube-launched autonomous drone produced by Area-I, a Georgia-based company that designs UASs. 

The Air Force is experimenting with the Valkyrie -- which is termed an "attritable" drone, or a piece of equipment that can be reused but costs little enough that the military can expect a certain amount of losses -- as a possible airborne communications node for fighter jets and as a potential autonomous UAS that would use artificial intelligence (AI) in tandem with tactical aircraft.

According to information from Area-I, the ALTIUS-600 small UAS can be launched for a variety of missions, including electronic warfare (EW); signals intelligence; counter-UAS; and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR), and can be launched from the air, sea, or ground to perform extended-endurance and multi-agent missions with a wide array of payload options.

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