Prototype will advance Boeing’s global Airpower Teaming System
SYDNEY, May 5, 2020 — A Boeing [NYSE:BA]-led Australian industry team has presented the first unmanned Loyal Wingman aircraft to the Royal Australian Air Force, a historic milestone for the company and the Commonwealth.
The aircraft, which uses artificial intelligence to extend the capabilities of manned and unmanned platforms, is the first to be designed, engineered and manufactured in Australia in more than 50 years. It is Boeing’s largest investment in an unmanned aircraft outside of the United States.
As the first of three prototypes for Australia’s Loyal Wingman Advanced Development Program, the aircraft also serves as the foundation for the Boeing Airpower Teaming System (ATS) being developed for the global defense market.
“This is a truly historic moment for our country and for Australian defence innovation,” said the Hon. Scott Morrison MP, Prime Minister of Australia. “The Loyal Wingman will be pivotal to exploring the critical capabilities our Air Force needs to protect our nation and its allies into the future.”
Air Marshal Mel Hupfeld, Chief of the Royal Australian Air Force, said the rollout of the first aircraft was a significant milestone in the Boeing Loyal Wingman project.
“This project is an excellent example of innovation through collaboration and what can be achieved working together with defence industry,” said Air Marshal Hupfeld. “This demonstrates the importance of the relationship Air Force has with Boeing Australia and defence industry more broadly. I look forward to exploring the capabilities this aircraft may bring to our existing fleet in the future.”
More than 35 members of Australian industry are supporting prototype work across four Australian states. With a global market demand for highly capable but extremely affordable unmanned aircraft, Boeing applied company-wide innovation to achieve those goals. The aircraft was engineered using a digital twin to model its structures, systems, capabilities and full life-cycle requirements; manufactured with Boeing’s largest-ever resin-infused single composite piece; and assembled using proven advanced manufacturing processes.
“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 Kristin Robertson, vice president and general manager of Autonomous Systems for Boeing Defense, Space & Security. “We look forward to getting the aircraft into flight testing and proving out the unmanned teaming concept. We see global allies with those same mission needs, which is why this program is so important to advancing the development of the Boeing Airpower Teaming System.”
The Loyal Wingman prototype now moves into ground testing, followed by taxi and first flight later this year.
It’s a challenge we didn’t take lightly. How can you extend and expand the capabilities of some of the world’s most elite airpower systems?
By multiplying their capabilities – and exponentially increasing their ability to project force as a result.
The Boeing Airpower Teaming System is a new unmanned aircraft using artificial intelligence to be that force multiplier.
It’s designed to work as a smart team with existing military aircraft to complement and extend airborne missions.
The Airpower Teaming System has enough capability to get the job done – from ISR to tactical early warning and more – but with a low-cost design that allows operators to confidently put it on the front line.
That’s airpower reimagined.
The Boeing Airpower Teaming System will provide a disruptive advantage for allied forces’ manned and unmanned missions. It will:
- Provide fighter-like performance, measuring 38 feet long (11.7m) and able to fly more than 2,000 nautical miles.
- Integrate sensor packages onboard to support intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, tactical early warning missions and more.
- Use artificial intelligence to fly independently or in support of manned aircraft while maintaining safe distance between other aircraft.
- Fly for the first time in 2020.
The Boeing Airpower Teaming System is the company’s first unmanned system to be designed and developed in Australia.
Designed to provide a transformational capability for global defense customers, it is the company’s largest investment in a new unmanned aircraft program outside the United States. This purpose-built aircraft can be missionized to suit country-specific needs.
- This newest addition to Boeing’s defense portfolio will be a force multiplier for global customers.
- The Boeing team in Australia has developed a completely new unmanned production-ready system, with the inclusion of Australian suppliers.
- Boeing has invested in a purpose-built system that leverages advanced manufacturing, digital production and augmented reality capability.
- The program uses Boeing’s global R&D expertise, as well as a strong industry team of agile global suppliers, with the ability to support national prosperity and sovereignty objectives.