Boeing Australia has completed the low-speed taxi test on its first Loyal Wingman unmanned aircraft as part of ground testing and preparations for the first flight. The Boeing Loyal Wingman aircraft is being developed with the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). The test marked a milestone for the aircraft that’s expected to make its first flight this year.
During the tests, the aircraft demonstrated several ground maneuvers at maximum speeds of up to 14 knots (approximately 16 mph, or 26 km/h) and stopping on command. These tests validated the function and integration of the aircraft systems, including steering, braking, and engine controls, with the aircraft in motion.
“Runway independence ensures the aircraft will be a highly flexible and adaptable system for our global customers,” said Dr. Shane Arnott, program director, Boeing Airpower Teaming System. “This latest test marks the first full unmanned movement of the Loyal Wingman with our Australian partners and takes us a step closer to first flight.”
As part of the development and testing complex of the Loyal Wingman drone, it is planned to create three prototypes of aircraft, on which it will be tested, including compatibility with the manned combat aircraft in service with the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF).
At 11 meters in length and a wingspan of 11.7 meters, the Loyal Wingman is designed to achieve “fighter-like performance” and a range of up to 3,704 km, carrying additional weapons or detection and surveillance systems. Such a drone will be a perfect accessory for each squadron, which will be entrusted with the most dangerous maneuvers and missions.
The combat drones will be equipped with a standard set for artificial intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions, but nothing will prevent them from being reconfigured to the requirements of another mission.