Boeing’s Loyal Wingman uncrewed military aircraft successfully completed its first flight this week at the at the Woomera Range Complex in Australia. Monitored from a ground control station, the autonomous aircraft flew a predetermined route for the flight, testing flight functionality and performance. The Loyal Wingman, which is the first military aircraft to be designed and manufactured in Australia in more than 50 years, is being developed by Boeing’s Australia team in partnership with the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF).
“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 RAAF Head of Air Force Capability Air Vice-Marshal Cath Roberts. “The Loyal Wingman project is a pathfinder for the integration of autonomous systems and artificial intelligence to create smart human-machine teams.”
The Loyal Wingman was designed to be the foundation for Boeing’s Airpower Teaming System, which pairs artificial intelligence-driven aircraft with existing military aircraft to “complement and extend airborne missions.” With a range of more than 2,000 NM, it can carry sensor packages for missions such as intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and tactical early warning operations. Initial teaming flights are planned for later this year.