A team from Boeing Australia has presented the first Loyal Wingman drone to the RAAF (Royal Australian Air Force), a historic milestone for the company and the Commonwealth. This advanced jet-powered combat drone is equipped with AI, designed to fly in collaboration with military planes in the crew.
It is the first of the three prototypes in Australia’s Loyal Wingman Advanced Development Program and also serves as the foundation for the Boeing Airpower Teaming System (ATS) being developed for the global market.
“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,” said the Hon. Scott Morrison MP, Prime Minister of Australia.
“This project is an excellent example of innovation through collaboration and what can be achieved working together with the defense industry,” said Air Marshal 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.”
Loyal Wingman has a length of 11 meters and a wingspan of 11.7 meters. The device is made on a modular basis. The payload for the drone will be placed in removable bow compartments 2.6 meters long. The device will be able to fly up to 3.7 thousand kilometers, carrying additional weapons or detection and surveillance systems.
The aircraft was designed using a digital modeling system of its complete life cycle structures, systems, capabilities, and requirements, made from Boeing’s largest piece of resin-infused composite material, and assembled using advanced and proven manufacturing processes.
Loyal Wingman drones are intended to provide hunter-like performance with the ability to fly more than 2,000 nautical miles (2,300 miles). The prototype unveiled today will now begin ground testing, followed by taxi tests, and estimates its first flight by the end of this year. In early April 2020, Boeing specialists made the first inclusion of Loyal Wingman airborne systems as part of the assembled fuselage.