What are ‘Loyal Wingman’ Drones?
March 30, 2020
Kratos XQ-58A Valkyrie Technology Demonstrator. Photo Source: Wright-Patterson Air Force Base (U.S. Air Force).

What are ‘Loyal Wingman’ Drones?

In 2019, a wave of countries have either started, or are interested in starting, ‘loyal wingman’ unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) programs.

The basic idea of a loyal wingman UAV is to field a drone that could support manned aircraft, especially in high-risk operational environments.

The most developed of these programs is Kratos Defence & Security Solutions’ XQ-58 Valkyrie, which first flew in March 2019.

The Valkyrie is now undergoing tests as part of the U.S. Air Force’s (USAF) Low Cost Attritable Strike Demonstrator (LCASD) program.

Today, Australia, the UK, France and Germany, and China have each signaled an intent in form or another to develop their own analogous solutions to the LCASD.

Others, such as South Africa, are now starting to entertain the idea as potential low-cost air warfare modernization effort.

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