Boeing Australia recently achieved two more milestones on the Royal Australian Air Force’s Loyal Wingman – Advanced Development Program: weight on wheels and aircraft power on.
The development milestones for the unmanned aircraft come just weeks after completion of the first fuselage, allowing for rapid progress on systems installation and functional and integration testing from the aircraft’s own landing gear.
“We’re continuing at pace toward our goal of flying later this year, so that we can show our customer and the world what unmanned capability like this can do,” said Dr. Shane Arnott, program director of the Boeing Airpower Teaming System.
“The strong contributions from our industry team are powering our progress.”
A ‘Loyal Wingman’ is a low-cost UAV that would be deployed alongside a manned aircraft to either act as a complementary asset or as a decoy to protect the crewed system from air defences. Due to their relatively low cost, these systems could be acquired and deployed en masse, providing a complementary asset that is ultimately expendable if required.
“The partnership with Boeing is key to building our understanding of not just the operational implications for these sorts of vehicles, but also making us a smart customer as we consider options for manned-unmanned teaming in the coming decade,” said Air Commodore Darren Goldie, RAAF Director-General of Air Combat Capability.
The aircraft is expected to complete its first flight this year.