Boeing has introduced its newest unmanned platform, the Boeing Airpower Teaming System.

Designed by Boeing Australia, it is the company’s largest investment in a new unmanned aircraft program outside the United States.

The company say that the aircraft will complement and extend airborne missions through smart teaming with existing military aircraft.

“The Boeing Airpower Teaming System will provide a disruptive advantage for allied forces’ manned/unmanned missions,” said Kristin Robertson, vice president and general manager of Boeing Autonomous Systems.

“With its ability to reconfigure quickly and perform different types of missions in tandem with other aircraft, our newest addition to Boeing’s portfolio will truly be a force multiplier as it protects and projects air power.”

The Boeing Airpower Teaming System will:

— Provide fighter-like performance, measuring 11.7 metres and able to fly more than 2,000 nautical miles;
— Integrate sensor packages onboard to support intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions and electronic warfare;
— Use artificial intelligence to fly independently or in support of manned aircraft while maintaining safe distance between other aircraft.

“This aircraft is a historic endeavor for Boeing. Not only is it developed outside the United States, it is also designed so that our global customers can integrate local content to meet their country-specific requirements,” said Marc Allen, president, Boeing International.

“The Boeing Airpower Teaming System provides a transformational capability in terms of defense, and our customers – led by Australia – effectively become partners on the program with the ability to grow their own sovereign capabilities to support it, including a high-tech workforce.”

First flight is planned for 2020.

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maurice10
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This must be the future, no G-forces to worry about, nor pilot fatigue, or horrendously expensive training programmes. The $64,000 question must be; what can’t this plane do, that only a manned craft can? There must be an opportunity to purchase more airframes in the future, that benefits from excluding pilot overheads. Ground staff numbers could drop a little too, and the prospect of casualties falling must be an incentive?

farouk
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farouk

There’s quite a few programs heading in this direction: Aero India 2019: HAL unveils Unmanned Wingman concept “India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) unveiled its Unmanned Wingman concept at the Aero India 2019 exhibition held in Bangalore from 20–24 February. The Unmanned Wingman concept is currently envisioned to be a 6 m-class, low-observable, multipurpose unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) with an endurance of up to 80 minutes and a range of 800 km, although its size can be scaled up for greater endurance or payload capacity should there be a customer requirement. The development is an effort led by HAL with… Read more »

Glass Half Full
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Glass Half Full

“Not heard of anything similar from the Uk” – you have but probably not in the way you expected. The optionally manned capability planned for Team Tempest will have to provide the most sophisticated control both in warfare and in peacetime in order to operate unmanned in commercial/non-segregated airspace at potentially > Mach 1 speeds. This system will then be capable of supporting smaller less complex unmanned wingman and independent action unmanned aircraft. Building airframes isn’t the hard part, its developing the software and system reliability and fail-safes to achieve the levels of trust required. If the aircraft is not… Read more »

Cam Hunter
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Cam Hunter

I wonder what it would take to make a British F35B unmanned and fly from the Carriers. Anyway have we even got drones that can fly from the Carriers?, Drones are a great asset and it would be nice to be able to put a Drone in the air where and when we want to from our carriers for recon or strike missions, TARANIS would be amazing if it could operate from the carriers. I hope we will be able to launch and recover large Drones in future. And Drone techs only getting better, We should develop more drones in… Read more »

maurice10
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I’m sure a number of F35’s will be converted into drones, before it goes out of service. The same may happen to some Typhoons, and even attack helicopters, where reducing human losses could be too attractive to ignore? The prospect of unmanned combat aircraft replacing the current fast jet fleets is extremely high.

T.S
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I think we will end up with different tiers of drones personally. Ships and certain army applications will want small, missile like drones that can hunt in packs and be expendable. Medium sized drones such as the Boeing and Kratos offerings will be used initially for wingman buddy’s that can distract and confuse whilst the manned fighters slip in and do their stuff, and then a high end drone such as Taranis will end up being used for surveillance and covert deep strike. I do believe that by the time we actually build Tempest, it may be already irrelevant. Drones… Read more »

Steve
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Steve

I think we are a long way from an unmanned and AI controlled drone becomes politically acceptable. One mistake and it will be the end of them.

We are seeing the same with self driving cars, one or two incidents and the whole research has now been put back probably another decade or more before they can realistically start becoming main stream.

Spynthesky
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Spynthesky

In reality practical self driving cars were always a decade away from the hype those with an interest to promote them wanted us to believe. Technically being able to do something and doing it in a totally acceptable, reliable and successful way is quite different. I think you are correct in your assessment here of drone tech its that last 5% that is the most difficult to solve and inevitably included in that are aspects well beyond the actual technology.

Martin
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Martin

Tempest should be canceled. We can operate hundreds of not thousands of drones for the same price. F35 keeps us in the manned fighter business almost until the 22nd Centuary. A manned F35E with adaptive engine should be the last manned fighter the RAF ever flys. No need for another multi billion pound fighter program.

Horniman
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Horniman

Looking at this sort of technology makes you wonder about the relevance of the Tempest program. While it remains to be seen whether anything comes from this it seems that even Australia (not to be too dismissive) can afford to develop sixth gen technology. I wouldn’t be surprised if we don’t see a large number of similar programs follow suit. A relatively simple airframe matched up with the sort of computer processing capability you are likely to find in your average iPhone and you can very quickly build yourself quite a deadly little attack drone. The development time for this… Read more »