WATCH: USAF Shows Off The Cutting-edge X-67A’s Maiden Flight

The US Air Force has unveiled an exciting milestone in its quest for advanced autonomous aerial technology. On February 28, 2024, the maiden flight of the XQ-67A demonstrator drone was completed, showcasing its impressive capabilities in the skies over Gray Butte Field Airport in Palmdale, California.

In the Air Force’s goal to automate a large part of its fleet, the second-generation XQ-67A represents a significant advancement. This unmanned aerial aircraft, known as the Off-Board Sensing Station (OBSS), is more than just a unique development. In February, the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) unveiled the Off-Board Weapon Station (OBWS), a complementary concept. AFRL states that the OBWS is “faster and more maneuverable, with less endurance but better range,” it uses the same chassis as the OBSS.

The XQ-67A represented more than just a technological breakthrough as it geared itself for takeoff. This ambitious project aims to create an aircraft family based on a single airframe by utilizing automotive design and production techniques. With this strategy, new drone models should be able to go from concept to flight in around two years.

Based on the XQ-58A Valkyrie, the XQ-67A is a joint project of the Air Force Test Center’s F-16 VENOM and X-62 VISTA program. Collectively, these efforts drive the creation of self-governing systems for unmanned aerial vehicles and pilot-less aircraft. The ultimate objective is to convert fighter pilots into executive officers with a mission-focused outlook, eliminating the necessity for them to fly aircraft manually and participate in warfare in the case of the OBWS.

The tests carried out in February depended heavily on the aircraft’s safety and the verification of its flight systems. Initially managed from a distance, these flights will gradually integrate increased levels of autonomy.

Watch the video below to witness the XQ-67A’s first flight, which serves as a testament to the potential of autonomous aerial combat:

Source: AFRL

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