Ground testing of Boeing’s Loyal Wingman prototype is underway with the first engine start on the autonomous unmanned aircraft successfully completed this month. The Loyal Wingman is designed to serve as the foundation for Boeing’s Airpower Teaming System, which uses “artificial intelligence to fly independently or in support of manned aircraft.” The aircraft is the first unmanned system to be developed by Boeing’s Australia team.
“This engine run gets us closer toward flying the first aircraft later this year and was successful thanks to the collaboration and dedication of our team,” said program director of the Boeing Airpower Teaming System Shane Arnott. “We’ve been able to select a very light, off-the-shelf jet engine for the unmanned system as a result of the advanced manufacturing technologies applied to the aircraft.”
The Loyal Wingman measures approximately 38 feet long and offers a range of more than 2,000 NM. Designed for the global defense market, it can carry sensor packages for missions such as intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and tactical early warning operations. As previously reported by AVweb, the company presented the first Loyal Wingman prototype to the Royal Australian Air Force last May.