Boeing Rolls Out Loyal Wingman Unmanned Aircraft


An Australia-based team led by Boeing presented its Loyal Wingman autonomous unmanned aircraft prototype to the Royal Australian Air Force on Tuesday. The aircraft, which is designed to “fly alongside existing platforms and use artificial intelligence to conduct teaming missions,” is the first of three prototypes headed for Australia’s Loyal Wingman Advanced Development Program. Ground testing for the Loyal Wingman will begin shortly with its first flight expected later this year.

“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 Boeing Defense, Space & Security Vice President of Autonomous Systems Kristin Robertson. “We look forward to getting the aircraft into flight testing and proving out the unmanned teaming concept.”

Aimed at the global defense market, the Loyal Wingman is the foundation of Boeing’s Airpower Teaming System (ATS). It is approximately 38 feet long and has a range of more than 2,000 NM. The project is Boeing’s largest unmanned aircraft investment outside of the U.S.

Video: Boeing
Kate O'Connor
Kate O’Connor works as AVweb's Editor-in-Chief. She is a private pilot, certificated aircraft dispatcher, and graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

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  1. It’s about time military advances to a new era.
    But this concept has me confused.
    Definition: having autonomy; NOT subject to control from outside; independent:
    This is to fly along with existing platforms – it says, so, does that mean that others will have INFLIGHT control over this?
    Please explain if I have it wrong.

    • Autonomous in the sense that “These drones don’t fly with a pilot remotely at the controls in a traditional sense, like say an MQ-9 Reaper drone. They will be directed in more of a point-and-click desktop or screen-top style interface. With the help of AI, they can automate much of this process, leaving their human overlords to concentrate on the big tactical picture instead of on constant small navigation and tactical tasks.”