Military

Loyal Wingman combat drone taxis for the first time

Loyal Wingman combat drone tax...
Loyal Wingman during its taxi ground test
Loyal Wingman during its taxi ground test
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Loyal Wingman during its taxi ground test
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Loyal Wingman during its taxi ground test

Boeing's Loyal Wingman combat drone has taxied under its own power for the first time, carrying out several ground maneuvers at speeds of up to 14 knots (16 mph, 26 km/h) and stopping on command.

The Loyal Wingman is being developed for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), and the aircraft used in the latest test is one of three class prototypes being built under Australia's Advanced Development Program.

Boeing says the low-speed taxi was carried out to verify the function and integration of drone's systems, which include steering, braking, and engine controls.

When the 38-ft-long (11.7-m) drone is ready for flight, it will be a jet-powered, autonomous, artificial-intelligence-powered teaming aircraft with a range of 2,000 nm (2,301 mi, 3,704 km) that can fly alongside UAVs and piloted combat aircraft.

The armaments for Loyal Wingman has yet to be revealed, though it will have electronic warfare capabilities.

While the chief customer for Loyal Wingman is the RAAF, Boeing and the 16 Australian industries behind the project also have an eye on the global defense market. Toward that end, Loyal Wingman has a modular nose cone that can be modified for a customer's specific needs, and it can operate like a conventional aircraft for takeoff, approach and landing for a variety of missions and runway configurations.

"Runway independence ensures the aircraft will be a highly flexible and adaptable system for our global customers," says 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."

The video below shows the taxi test.

Loyal Wingman Taxi

Source: Boeing

4 comments
darkcook
Pretty cool. Very much moving toward Skynet. I'd be very curious how they are going to maintain separation from manned aircraft systems when flying as "wing."
wolf0579
And when an A.I. hacks this thing while it's in the air, the Pilot that thinks he's in control of this drone will find out it's not so loyal after all.
Proprotornut
This wingman looks amazing, but I suspect, as we have seen in the US lately, that it might be used to suppress public dissent in the future the way the world is going.
borisabdul
I don't see the reason for using jet engines on combat drones, how is it going float while in scanning/viewing/radaring a landscape mode?