Boeing’s Loyal Wingman unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), developed in conjunction with the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), has recently completed its first taxiing operation, marking the first time that the aircraft has moved under its own power.
The aircraft, which is designed to use artificial intelligence to team with and support other aircraft platforms and is due to perform its first full flight in the near future, reached a maximum speed of 14 knots (16 miles/26 km per hour) on the ground, demonstrating several activities while maneuvering and stopping on command.
Three Loyal Wingman prototypes will be the initial foundation for the Airpower Teaming System will be offered worldwide. The aircraft features advanced design and flight characteristics, including a modular nose section that is customizable for specific needs and a conventional takeoff and landing approach suitable for many missions and runway types.
Air Vice-Marshal Cath Roberts, RAAF Head of Air Force Capability, commented: “Air Force partners with industry to ensure we can find innovative solutions to meet our future priorities. Boeing’s Loyal Wingman project is a perfect example of what this collaborative approach can achieve. Seeing the prototype take to the runway for this low-speed taxi test is an exciting moment – another significant development milestone ahead of its first flight.”
Paul Ryder, Boeing Australia Flight Test manager, said: “The low-speed taxi enabled us to verify the function and integration of the aircraft systems, including steering, braking and engine controls, with the aircraft in motion.”
Dr. Shane Arnott, program director of Boeing Airpower Teaming System, stated: “Runway independence ensures the aircraft will be a highly flexible and adaptable system for our global customers. 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.”