Shield AI, Kratos Team to Integrate AI Pilot on Valkyrie XQ-58

Ryan Tseng, Shield AI cofounder and CEO, and Gerald Beaman, president of Kratos’ unmanned aerial combat division. The companies announced that Shield AI is building an AI pilot for Kratos’ XQ-58 Valkyrie.

SAN DIEGO—Kratos Defense & Security Solutions, a technology company in the defense, national security and global markets, and Shield AI, a defense technology company, have signed an agreement to integrate and market an artificial intelligence pilot built by Shield AI for Kratos’ XQ-58 Valkyrie, making real the concept of crewed-uncrewed teaming for jet aircraft.

“Ukraine is losing 10,000 drones per month due to Russian electronic warfare—primarily because the Russians are jamming communications and GPS. If an uncrewed aircraft is unable to operate without GPS and without communications, it will be near useless in future conflicts,” said Brandon Tseng, Shield AI’s cofounder and president, who is also a former Navy Seal. “AI pilots enable teams of aircraft to intelligently execute missions without GPS and communications. When you take an incredible, affordable uncrewed jet aircraft like the XQ-58 and pair it up with our AI pilot, you create a game-changing strategic deterrent.”

“The Valkyrie is one of a very few uncrewed jet aircraft that are flying today, ramping
in production and ready for AI pilot integration,” said Ryan Tseng, Shield AI’s cofounder and CEO. “Close integration and access with Kratos on the XQ-58 will enable the productization of intelligent uncrewed jet aircraft on a timeline that is, quite frankly, going to shock some people. Ultimately our AI pilots will be flying many uncrewed jet aircraft, but I can’t think of a better uncrewed jet to start with than the Valkyrie.”

Shield AI has developed a combat-deployed AI pilot that has flown on a variety of platforms, including a quadcopter, its own manufactured Group 3 unmanned aircraft system called the V-BAT (one of four remaining contenders for the Army’s FTUAS contract) and a modified F-16 fighter.

Kratos has active production lines producting approximately 150 jet drones annually, including Valkyrie, and a family of affordable, expendable and attritable tactical jet drones flying today, including Tactical Firejet, Mako, Valkyrie and others, with actual known cost points of approximately $400,000 to $6.5 million and multiple contracts with the U.S. Air Force, Navy, Army, Marine Corps and others.

“By taking the most cost-efficient, proven, existing and in-production uncrewed jets, with key performance capabilities, and pairing them with the most intelligent, capable and proven AI pilots, Kratos and Shield AI are uniquely positioned to rapidly bring the first and best crewed-uncrewed teaming aircraft to market,” said Eric Demarco, CEO of Kratos.