The first Loyal Wingman unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) has been presented to the Royal Australian Air Force by an Australian industry team led by Boeing. The drone is designed to use artificial intelligence to provide collaborative capabilities for manned and unmanned systems, and is the first aircraft to be designed, engineered and manufactured in Australia in more than 50 years, as well as Boeing’s largest investment in an unmanned aircraft outside of the United States.
This aircraft is the first of three prototypes under development for Australia’s Loyal Wingman Advanced Development Program, and also serves as the foundation for the Boeing Airpower Teaming System (ATS) being developed for the global defense market. The prototype will now move into ground testing, followed shortly by taxi and first flight.
More than 35 members of Australian industry are supporting the prototype Loyal Wingman work across four Australian states. The aircraft was engineered using a digital twin to model its structures, systems, capabilities and full life-cycle requirements; manufactured with Boeing’s largest-ever resin-infused single composite piece; and assembled using proven advanced manufacturing processes.
The Hon. Scott Morrison MP, Prime Minister of Australia, stated: “This is a truly historic moment for our country and for Australian defence innovation. The Loyal Wingman will be pivotal to exploring the critical capabilities our Air Force needs to protect our nation and its allies into the future.”
Air Marshal Mel Hupfeld, Chief of the Royal Australian Air Force, said the rollout of the first aircraft was a significant milestone in the Boeing Loyal Wingman project. “This project is an excellent example of innovation through collaboration and what can be achieved working together with defence industry. This demonstrates the importance of the relationship Air Force has with Boeing Australia and defence industry more broadly. I look forward to exploring the capabilities this aircraft may bring to our existing fleet in the future.”
“We are proud to take this significant step forward with the Royal Australian Air Force and show the potential for smart unmanned teaming to serve as a force multiplier,” said Kristin Robertson, vice president and general manager of Autonomous Systems for Boeing Defense, Space & Security. “We look forward to getting the aircraft into flight testing and proving out the unmanned teaming concept. We see global allies with those same mission needs, which is why this program is so important to advancing the development of the Boeing Airpower Teaming System.”