A US Air Force program aimed at developing a low-cost unmanned aircraft has hit a snag, after a drone prototype sustained damage while attempting to land.
The Kratos XQ-58A Valkyrie experienced a malfunction during its third test flight at Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona earlier this week.
“High surface winds and a malfunction of the vehicle’s provisional flight test recovery system resulted in a mishap,” the US Air Force said in a press release.
In a separate statement, the drone’s manufacturer acknowledged that the Valkyrie had “suffered an anomaly resulting in the aircraft sustaining damage upon touchdown.”
The unmanned aircraft is part of the Air Force’s Low-Cost Attritable Strike Unmanned Aerial System Demonstration (LCASD). The initiative seeks to create an affordable (by Pentagon standards) unmanned combat aircraft that can carry out one-way missions if necessary. The Valkyrie is not able to make runway landings, and instead uses a parachute recovery system. Parachute technology for drones dates back to the 1970s – raising questions about why such a well-tested and proven system malfunctioned on the Valkyrie.
Kratos reportedly received $7 million from the US Air Force in 2016 towards the development of the drone.