Boeing Australia, working in conjunction with the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), has successfully completed the first test flight of the Loyal Wingman unmanned aerial system (UAS). The Loyal Wingman, which is the first military aircraft to be designed and manufactured in Australia in more than 50 years, is designed to use artificial intelligence to provide manned-unmanned teaming capabilities for supporting air force operations.
The test flight was completed under the supervision of a Boeing test pilot monitoring the aircraft from a ground control station at the Woomera Range Complex. Following a series of taxi tests validating ground handling, navigation and control, and pilot interface, the aircraft completed a successful takeoff under its own power before flying a pre-determined route at different speeds and altitudes to verify flight functionality and demonstrate the performance of Boeing’s Airpower Teaming System design.
The development of Loyal Wingman was supported by more than 35 Australian industry teams and leveraged Boeing’s state-of-the-art design processes, including model-based engineering techniques such as a digital twin for digital flight-test missions. The aircraft went from design to flight in three years.
Additional Loyal Wingman aircraft are currently under development, with plans for teaming flights scheduled for the near future.
Air Vice-Marshal Cath Roberts, RAAF Head of Air Force Capability, commented: “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. 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.”
Leanne Caret, President and CEO of Boeing Defense, Space & Security, said: “Boeing and Australia are pioneering fully integrated combat operations by crewed and uncrewed aircraft. We’re honored to be opening this part of aviation’s future with the Royal Australian Air Force, and we look forward to showing others how they also could benefit from our loyal wingman capabilities.”