Boeing Australia recently achieved two more milestones on the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF)’s Loyal Wingman – Advanced Development Program: weight on wheels and aircraft power on.
The ‘weight on wheels’ milestone is when the fuselage structure moves from the assembly jig to the aircraft’s own landing gear to continue systems installation and functional testing. The landing gear system was delivered by RUAG Australia.
“We’re continuing at pace toward our goal of flying later this year, so that we can show our customer and the world what unmanned capability like this can do,” said Dr. Shane Arnott, program director of the Boeing Airpower Teaming System (ATS). “The strong contributions from our industry team are powering our progress.”
The two development milestones for the unmanned aircraft come just weeks after completion of the first fuselage, allowing for rapid progress on systems installation and functional and integration testing. The aircraft is expected to complete its first flight this year.
The aircraft is one of three prototypes that will be developed as a part of the RAAF Loyal Wingman – Advanced Development Program. Announced by the Australian Government in February, the program seeks to develop a prototype aircraft that can protect and extend airpower by teaming multiple unmanned platforms with manned assets to achieve a range of missions.
The work being done in Australia also serves as the foundation for a global unmanned smart teaming system Boeing launched at the Avalon Airshow called the Boeing Airpower Teaming System (ATS). Designed and developed by Boeing Australia and powered by AI, the ATS is a modular and highly customizable aircraft with fighter-like flight capabilities.
The Boeing Airpower Teaming System will:
— Provide fighter-like performance, measuring 38 feet long (11.7 meters) and able to fly more than 2,000 nautical miles.
— Integrate sensor packages onboard to support intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions and electronic warfare (EW).
— Use artificial intelligence to fly independently or in support of manned aircraft while maintaining a safe distance between other aircraft.