Military

Loyal Wingman combat drone completes first high-speed taxi tests

Loyal Wingman combat drone com...
Loyal Wingman in orange test livery
Loyal Wingman in orange test livery
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Loyal Wingman in orange test livery
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Loyal Wingman in orange test livery

Boeing's Loyal Wingman jet-propelled combat drone has been put through its first high-speed taxi test in preparation for its maiden flight next year. Conducted by Boeing and the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) at an undisclosed location in Australia, the tests were designed to verify if the craft functions as expected at accelerated speeds.

Initial low-speed taxis carried out in October saw the 38-ft-long (11.7-m) prototype reach speeds of up to 14 knots (16 mph, 26 km/h) and stop on command in order to check the functioning and integration of the drone's systems, such as the steering, brakes, and engine controls.

These were then followed by medium-speed and now high-speed taxi tests, though Boeing does not specify what speed the unmanned aircraft reached in the latest round, which involved one of three class prototypes being built under Australia's Advanced Development Program.

The tests are currently suspended, with final verification to be carried out before the first flights are given the green light in 2021.

“Our test program is progressing well, and we are happy with the ground test data we have collected to date,” says Paul Ryder, Boeing Flight Test manager. “We are working with the Air Warfare Centre to complete final test verifications to prepare for flight testing in the new year.”

Boeing says that, when operational, the Loyal Wingman will be able to act as a teammate with piloted combat units and other UAVs. It will have a range of 2,000 nm (2,301 miles, 3,704 km) and performance comparable to that of a conventional fighter jet, as well as electronic warfare capabilities and yet to be determined armaments. It's the first military aircraft to be designed and built in Australia in 50 years.

The short video below shows the high-speed taxi test.

Loyal Wingman taxi

Source: Boeing

5 comments
5 comments
Nixter
This program is older than most people realize you can find videos of this system in use in fifteen year ago in old YouTube videos of the UFO category, these were made in Australia and were near the secret joint Australian US base.
guzmanchinky
Skynet is pleased.
akarp
'Loyal' is an interesting name to use...hopefully the encryption system for communications is secure.
Tony Parmiter
"undisclosed Location somewhere in Australia"......... There is only one place that looks like that, and it has a great history in Rocketry and Aviation Research!
toni24
The avionics and electronic interface are easy and basically off the shelf items. What is critical is the creation of an AI that can react like a real human pilot and cannot be interfered with by hackers or outside electronic disruption. Things like EMP or lightnig strikes. But most importantly, the AI must never decide that it knows better than the human controller that is giving the orders, except when it would endanger human lives outside of mission parameters.