The Pentagon signed a $15 million contract with a California-based company for two drones capable of carrying bombs and other weapons after being launched from a ship.
As part of the no-bid deal made last week, Kratos Unmanned Aerial Systems Inc. will provide the Navy with two XQ-58A unmanned aerial systems (UAS) with advanced sensors and weapons payloads capable of offensive strike missions.
The work will be carried out at the company’s headquarters in Sacramento, California. It is expected to be completed by September 2023, Pentagon officials said.
The Navy has been working to develop carrier-based drone systems since 2006. It has a running program for the Boeing MQ-25 Stingray. But it is focused on providing the Navy with unmanned systems for carrier-based refueling missions.
Acting as a wingman, the XQ-58A can be controlled by a parent aircraft to carry out missions such as defensive fire or scouting enemy units. It features stealth technology and is capable of conventional takeoffs as well as launching from modules such as shipping containers and semitrailer trucks.
The company says its XQ-58A, which it calls the Valkyrie, has a range of about 3,000 nautical miles and a maximum speed of more than 500 mph. It could reach the disputed Taiwan Strait from a ship operating near Guam.