Boeing Australia and the Royal Australian Air Force have successfully completed the first test flight of the Loyal Wingman uncrewed aircraft.
According to a news release from the firm, the flight of the first military aircraft to be designed and manufactured in Australia in more than 50 years flew under the supervision of a Boeing test pilot monitoring the aircraft from a ground control station at the Woomera Range Complex.
The aircraft will fly alongside other platforms, using artificial intelligence and other systems to augment crewed aircraft.
“The Loyal Wingman’s first flight is a major step in this long-term, significant project for the Air Force and Boeing Australia, and we’re thrilled to be a part of the successful test,” said Air Vice-Marshal Cath Roberts, RAAF Head of Air Force Capability.
“The Loyal Wingman project is a pathfinder for the integration of autonomous systems and artificial intelligence to create smart human-machine teams. Through this project we are learning how to integrate these new capabilities to complement and extend air combat and other missions,” she said.
Following a series of taxi tests validating ground handling, navigation and control, and pilot interface, the aircraft completed a successful take-off under its own power before flying a pre-determined route at different speeds and altitudes to verify flight functionality and demonstrate the performance of the Airpower Teaming System design.
This first Loyal Wingman aircraft is serving as the foundation for the Boeing Airpower Teaming System being developed for various global defence customers.
Additional Loyal Wingman aircraft are currently under development, with plans for teaming flights scheduled for later this year say Boeing here.