March 8 (UPI) -- The XQ-58A Valkyrie demonstrator drone completed its inaugural flight this week at Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona.
The long-range, high subsonic unmanned aircraft completed its test objectives during a 76-minute flight Tuesday, according to news releases from the U.S. Air Force and Kratos Defense & Security Solutions on Thursday.
Kratos, which is headquartered in San Diego, and the Air Force Research Laboratory partnered to develop the XQ-58A over a 2 1/2-year contract period.
Five test flights are planned in two phases, including evaluating system functionality, aerodynamic performance, and launch and recovery systems.
"XQ-58A is the first example of a class of UAV that is defined by low procurement and operating costs while providing game changing combat capability," said Doug Szczublewski, AFRL's XQ-58A program manager.
The Valkyrie is a runway independent drone capable of long-range flights at high-subsonic speeds and has a range of more than 3,000 nautical miles.
The aircraft's 500-pound payload could include two small diameter bombs but it could be increase with smaller fuel storage, according to The Drive.
The objective of the AFRL's Low Cost Attritable Aircraft Technology division is to develop better design tools and to mature and leverage commercial manufacturing processes to reduce costs in development.
Each drone costs about $3 million each based on buying a fleet of 100, according to The Drive. In comparison, an F-35A costs $89.2 million, according to Lockheed Martin.
"If you team up a bunch of these aircraft with an F-35 or an F-22, or some of our surveillance assets, you'd basically be able to cover more space at a lower cost point," AFRL LCAAT project manager Bill Baron told the Dayton Daily News in 2017. "In a lot of cases, we don't have enough airplanes and, as you look to the future, our fleet sizes are most likely going to continue to be more limited so this is a way to provide a force multiplier."