Polish F-35s and F-16s can get ‘loyal wing’ Valkyrie UAV

WARSAW, ($1=3.86 Polish Zlotys) – During the XXIX International Exhibition for the Defense Industry [MSPO] in Kielce, the American company Kratos Defense & Security Solutions offered the Polish Air Force XQ-58A Valkyrie unmanned aerial vehicles. A full-size model of the aircraft was presented at the fair, as well as reduced models of the UTAP-22 Mako and BQM-167 Skeeter drones.

According to Polish sources at BulgarianMilitary.com, the XQ-58A Valkyrie, which is now essentially a technology demonstrator, is offered in the program under the code name Harpia Szpon, which suggests that the Polish army will acquire the so-called loyal winged, i.e. combat drones equipped with artificial intelligence and providing support for manned aircraft.

Interestingly, according to the representatives present at the MSPO in Kielce, Valkyrie can work with both the multifunction aircraft F-35A Lightning II [32 copies are ordered under the Harpia program] and the older F-16C / D unit 52+ modern aircraft. Most importantly, Kratos Defense & Security Solutions has begun talks with an undisclosed Polish company on the issue.

The XQ-58A Valkyrie, originally designated the XQ-222, has been developed since 2016 as a development of the aforementioned UTAP-22 Mako for the US Low-Cost Program Attritable Strike [LCAS] in addition to primarily the F-35A Lightning Aircraft II and F-22A Raptor, but also older 4th generation aircraft or bombers. He was then included in Skyborg Vanguard’s autonomous reconnaissance program for unmanned aerial vehicles as a technology demonstrator.

In December 2020, the XQ-58A was used as a platform for carrying the gatewayONE data relay for secure communication between F-22A and F-35 aircraft, and in April 2021 for tests with the release of cargo from the internal weapons compartment – small reconnaissance UAV ALTIUS-600.

On July 28, 2021, it was announced that the tested demonstrator of XQ-58A technology, serial number 15-8001, would be withdrawn and would go to the National Museum of the United States Air Force [USAF] at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio [October 9, 2019, there was an accident during landing during the third test flight; a second copy was built № 15-8002]. So far, both copies have performed eight detected fields.

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