Boeing rolls out first Loyal Wingman unmanned aircraft
A Boeing-led Australian industry team has presented the first unmanned Loyal Wingman aircraft to the Royal Australian Air Force.
The aircraft, which uses artificial intelligence to extend the capabilities of manned and unmanned platforms, is said to be the first designed, engineered, and manufactured in Australia in more than 50 years. It is Boeing’s largest investment in an unmanned aircraft outside of the U.S.
As the first of three prototypes for Australia’s Loyal Wingman Advanced Development Program, the aircraft also serves as the foundation for the Boeing Airpower Teaming System (ATS) being developed for the global defense market.
“This is a truly historic moment for our country and for Australian defence innovation,” said Scott Morrison, MP, Prime Minister of Australia. “The Loyal Wingman will be pivotal to exploring the critical capabilities our Air Force needs to protect our nation and its allies into the future.”
Air Marshal Mel Hupfeld, Chief of the Royal Australian Air Force, said the rollout of the aircraft was a significant milestone.
“This project is an excellent example of innovation through collaboration and what can be achieved working together with defense industry,” said Hupfeld. “This demonstrates the importance of the relationship Air Force has with Boeing Australia and defense industry more broadly. I look forward to exploring the capabilities this aircraft may bring to our existing fleet in the future.”
The aircraft was engineered using a digital twin to model its structures, systems, capabilities, and full lifecycle requirements; manufactured with its largest-ever resin-infused single composite piece; and assembled using advanced manufacturing processes.
“We are proud to take this significant step forward with the Royal Australian Air Force and show the potential for smart unmanned teaming to serve as a force multiplier,” said Kristin Robertson, Vice President and General Manager of Autonomous Systems for Boeing Defense, Space & Security. “We look forward to getting the aircraft into flight testing and proving out the unmanned teaming concept. We see global allies with those same mission needs, which is why this program is so important to advancing the development of the Boeing Airpower Teaming System.”
The system is designed to work as a smart team with existing military aircraft to complement and extend airborne missions. It aims to provide a disruptive advantage for allied forces’ manned and unmanned missions.
The Loyal Wingman prototype now moves into ground testing, followed by taxi and first flight later this year. The aircraft measures 38 ft (11.5 m) long and is able to fly more than 2000 nautical miles (3704 km). The integrated sensor packages onboard will support intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and tactical early warning missions.
For more information, visit www.boeing.com.