Boeing Australia rolls out first Loyal Wingman unmanned aircraft prototype

by Julian Kerr

Boeing Australia has rolled out the first prototype of its Loyal Wingman unmanned aircraft system (UAS), with a company executive stating that production of the multimission platform could begin in the middle of the decade.

Boeing Australia rolled out the first Loyal Wingman unmanned aircraft prototype on 5 May. (Boeing)

Boeing Australia rolled out the first Loyal Wingman unmanned aircraft prototype on 5 May. (Boeing)

The presentation to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) in a virtual ceremony held on 5 May involved the first of three prototypes for Australia’s Loyal Wingman Advanced Development Program, which will also serve as the foundation for the Boeing Airpower Teaming System (ATS) being developed for the global defence market.

The fighter-size Loyal Wingman is designed as a highly capable but affordable UAS to fly independently or in support of manned military aircraft.

Ground testing and taxiing of the prototype will be followed by first flight at an undisclosed location before the end of the year.

ATS programme director Shane Abbott told reporters that production could begin around the middle of the decade “possibly a little bit earlier”. Boeing is in active conversation “with a lot of folks” but any decision on where production will take place is some time away, he said.

This Loyal Wingman unmanned aircraft is one of three prototypes for Australia’s Loyal Wingman Advanced Development Program. The aircraft also serves as the foundation for the Boeing ATS being developed for the global defence market. (Boeing)

This Loyal Wingman unmanned aircraft is one of three prototypes for Australia’s Loyal Wingman Advanced Development Program. The aircraft also serves as the foundation for the Boeing ATS being developed for the global defence market. (Boeing)

The aircraft, which uses artificial intelligence to extend the capabilities of manned and unmanned platforms, is the first to be designed, engineered, and manufactured in Australia in more than 50 years. Canberra has contributed up to AUD40 million (USD25.8 million) to the programme, alongside Boeing’s largest investment in an unmanned aircraft programme outside the United States.

The Loyal Wingman unmanned aircraft, the first prototype of which was rolled out on 5 May (seen here), is expected to have a range of more than 3,700 km. (Boeing)
A computer-generated image showing a Boeing F/A-18 multirole fighter flying alongside four Loyal Wingman unmanned aircraft. (Boeing)

https://www.janes.com/defence-news/news-detail/boeing-australia-rolls-out-first-loyal-wingman-unmanned-aircraft-prototype

Boeing Australia has rolled out the first prototype of its Loyal Wingman unmanned aircraft system (U...

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