Military

Boeing presents first Loyal Wingman combat drone prototype to RAAF

Boeing presents first Loyal Wi...
Boeing Australia has built the first of three Loyal Wingman aircraft prototypes, which will serve as the foundation for the Boeing Airpower Teaming System being developed for the global defense market
Boeing Australia has built the first of three Loyal Wingman aircraft prototypes, which will serve as the foundation for the Boeing Airpower Teaming System being developed for the global defense market
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Boeing Australia has built the first of three Loyal Wingman aircraft prototypes, which will serve as the foundation for the Boeing Airpower Teaming System being developed for the global defense market
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Boeing Australia has built the first of three Loyal Wingman aircraft prototypes, which will serve as the foundation for the Boeing Airpower Teaming System being developed for the global defense market
The Loyal Wingman prototype will begin ground testing, then taxi tests leading up to its maiden flight later this year
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The Loyal Wingman prototype will begin ground testing, then taxi tests leading up to its maiden flight later this year
The jet-powered Loyal Wingman is a 38-ft-long (11.7-m) combat drone aimed at the global market
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The jet-powered Loyal Wingman is a 38-ft-long (11.7-m) combat drone aimed at the global market
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The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) has received the first of three Loyal Wingman aircraft prototypes from Boeing. The unmanned combat drone being built by a Boeing-led Australian industry team for the RAAF as part of the Loyal Wingman Advanced Development Program is the first military aircraft to be designed, engineered, and manufactured in Australia in over half a century.

Being built by over 35 Australian industry partners across four Australian states, the Loyal Wingman is an advanced jet-powered combat drone aimed at the global market to serve as the foundation for the Boeing Airpower Teaming System (ATS). Engineering of the 38-ft-long (11.7-m) drone involved the creation of a "digital twin" to model its structures, systems, capabilities, and full life-cycle requirements, and the drone itself is made of advanced composite materials that include the largest-ever resin-infused single composite piece ever manufactured by Boeing.

The jet-powered Loyal Wingman is a 38-ft-long (11.7-m) combat drone aimed at the global market
The jet-powered Loyal Wingman is a 38-ft-long (11.7-m) combat drone aimed at the global market

The Loyal Wingman is designed to operate alongside and extend the capabilities of manned and unmanned platforms by means of artificial intelligence and configurable sensors. It has a range of 2,000 nm (2,301 mi, 3,704 km) and "fighter-like performance," allowing it to carry out combat and reconnaissance missions.

"This project is an excellent example of innovation through collaboration and what can be achieved working together with defense industry," says Air Marshal Mel Hupfeld, Chief of the Royal Australian Air Force. "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."

According to Boeing, the Loyal Wingman prototype will begin ground testing, then taxi tests leading up to its maiden flight later this year.

Source: Boeing

Update (May 11, 2020): This article original stated that the Loyal Wingman was "the first aircraft to be designed, engineered, and manufactured in Australia in over half a century" – it should have read, "the first military aircraft to be designed, engineered, and manufactured in Australia in over half a century." Our apologies for the error, which has now been corrected in the text.

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3 comments
guzmanchinky
That does seem to be the future, several of these controlled by a pilot in an F-22/35 far away from danger...
Babu
This could be the beginning of a new era for manufacturing large single composite piece light-weight structures using advanced composite materials. An immediate application could be the air taxi drones run using a combination of jet engines for propulsion and fan systems to float.
Larry Pope
Another example of a Lifting Fuselage Configuration (LFC) first designed and patented in 1921. Forgotten aviation pioneer, Texas born Vincent Burnelli, built several versions of the LFC from 1921 to 1945. His vision of the future of aviation is finally coming to pass. Too bad he gets no credit for his 40 plus years of passionate dedication to proving the concept. Go to http://www.burnelliaircraft.com/ to see the expression and progression of his vision.