Autonomous Launch Method Trialled for Military UAS 

Kratos has trialled its KTLS, an autonomous launch system for the Valkyrie UAS, enabling take off from traditional runways or straight roads without requiring rocket assisted take off (RATO) By William Mackenzie / 09 Jul 2024
Autonomous Launch Method Trialled for Military UAS 
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At the North Dakota GrandSky Range, Kratos Defense & Security Solutions, Inc. has successfully demonstrated the second of its three Valkyrie launch methodsthe Kratos Trolley Launch System (KTLS).

The KTLS enables Kratos’ Valkyrie, a tactical unmanned aerial system (UAS), to take off from traditional runways or straight roads without requiring rocket assisted take off (RATO) or other acceleration producing devices. 

The KTLS is unpowered, with take-off thrust provided solely by the aircraft jet engine. The KTLS take off is fully autonomous, with the aircraft engine throttling up like a conventional jet and taking off down a runway. 

At lift-off speed, the aircraft separates from the KTLS, which then deploys drogue chutes and brakes to a stop on the runway while the aircraft proceeds to its flight mission.

The Valkyrie has typically operated using the RATO method, which enables the system to be operated from austere and unprepared locations, such as without runways or similar traditional aircraft support elements. 

With both the RATO and KTLS launch methods, the aircraft payload and fuel load can be maximized whilst not being reduced by the weight or storage volume required for conventional retractable gear. The overall flyaway aircraft system cost is also not impacted by the cost of take-off / landing gear.

Kratos’ strategy aims reinvigorate the U.S. defense industrial base with rapidly developed and fielded low-cost systems by working closely with the U.S. government. 

Producing jet-powered UAS, Kratos is executing its strategy with the Erinyes hypersonic test bed, which recently completed a successful first flight.

Steve Fendley, President Kratos Unmanned Systems Division, commented; “The availability of the GrandSky Range resources and the support from Senators Hoeven and Cramer and the North Dakota community at large has been an incredible enabler for our program. 

“As we watch peer adversaries in both their preparations and active conflicts, and at the same time see the DoD budget impacts in our own nation, we have challenged ourselves at Kratos to solve today’s defense challenges with solutions that are realizable, near term achievable, and affordable.

“The perfect capability solution too late is really an abject failure; and we continually use this fact as a constraint on our approaches. We remain committed to developing and producing systems that are effective in the near term and deliver substantial effect/impact/utility per cost across the life cycle.”

Eric DeMarco, President and CEO of Kratos, added; “The successful demonstration of our Valkyrie and KTLS system is another recent example of Kratos “listening” to the customer community and investing our own funds, enabling Kratos to rapidly develop, demonstrate and field relevant, low-cost systems.

“At Kratos, ‘better is the enemy of good enough, ready to go and flying today’, with our entire organization focused on delivering products, not some day hoped for, imagined images, power points or renditions, as we work with our government customer partners to rebuild the U.S. industrial base and support the warfighter.”

Posted by William Mackenzie Connect & Contact
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