Directory of U.S. Military Rockets and Missiles
Appendix 2: Modern UAVs
Copyright © 2024 Andreas Parsch

Skydio RQ-28 X2D

In 2018, the U.S. Army formulated the requirements for an SRR (Short Range Reconnaissance) platform, an inexpensive, rucksack-portable, VTOL small UAV to give platoons ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance) capabilities beyond terrain obstacles. In 2020, Skydio announced that they would develop a drone named X2 to fulfill corporate and military needs, and the X2D variant became one of the SRR competitors. In February 2022, it was announced that it had won the first iteration of SRR (also called "Tranche 1"), and would be fielded by the Army as the RQ-28A. The Army has plans to acquire about 1000 RQ-28A drones, the first of which had reached the first operational unit by December 2022.

Photo: PEO Aviation, US Army

The RQ-28A is foldable quadcopter UAV, which can be brought from rucksack stowage to flight in less than 75 seconds by a single person. The light-weight airframe is primarily made of magnesium and carbon fibre composites, and its ISR equipment is a 4K color camera and a FLIR (Forward-Looking Infrared) camera.

Photo: Skydio

The drone is controlled by the operator using a rugged handheld controller with joystick and touchscreen, but can also fly completely autonomously. For autonomous operation, the RQ-28A is equipped with a GPS navigation system, 6 cameras for all-aspect awareness, and AI-enhanced flight-control software. The capabilities include auto-detection of humans or vehicles, circling around or following user-selected objects, people or the drone operator, and avoiding even thin and hard-to-see obstacles.

Photo: Defense Express

Already in 2021, in parallel with the SRR Tranche 1 evaluation, the Army started the evaluation of candidate UAVs for SRR Tranche 2, to provide a UAV with further improved capabilities. On of the finalists in the selection is Skydio's own X10D quadcopter.

The X2D was also evualated by the U.S. Marine Corps since 2021, and is one of the VTOL Small UAV systems which are going to replace hand-launched fixed-wings UAVs like the RQ-12 Wasp AE.


Note: Data given by several sources show slight variations. Figures given below may therefore be inaccurate!

Data for RQ-28A:

Dimensionsflying: 66.3 cm × 56.9 cm × 21.1 cm (26.1 in × 22.4 in × 8.3 in)
folded (w/o battery): 30.2 cm × 14 cm × 9.1 cm (11.9 in × 5.5 in × 3.6 in)
Weight1325 g (2.92 lb)
Speed40 km/h (25 mph)
Ceiling3660 m (12000 ft)
Range10 km (6 miles)
Endurance35 min
PropulsionElectric motors

Main Sources

[1] DefTech: Short Range Reconnaissance System Platform
[2] Wikipedia: Skydio
[3] Skydio Website
[4] Emma Helfrich: Army Fields Its New RQ-28A Quadcopter Recon Drone
[5] Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems Enters SRR Tranche 2 Prototype Testing
[6] Skydio Enters Final Phase of US Army RQ-28A Quadcopter Replacement Program

Back to Directory of U.S. Military Rockets and Missiles, Appendix 2

Last Updated: 15 January 2024