Boeing and the Australian Air Force have conducted a test flight of a fighter-like drone designed to operate with manned aircraft in combat.
The company said in a statement that “Loyal Wingman” – the first military aircraft to be designed and manufactured in Australia in more than 50 years – flew under the supervision of a Boeing test pilot who monitored the aircraft from a ground control station in the “Womera Range” complex (South Australia). It completed a successful take-off with its own power before flying a pre-defined route at various speeds and altitudes to verify flight functions and demonstrate the Air Force Teams system design performance.
Boeing added that Loyal Wingman forms the basis for the Boeing Air Teaming System that is being developed for many global defense customers. The statement quoted Leanne Carrett, President of Boeing Defense, Space, and Security, that the aircraft is an explorer of the integration of autonomous systems and artificial intelligence to create intelligent human-machine teams.
It will fly alongside other platforms, using artificial intelligence to work with existing manned and unmanned assets to complement mission capabilities, according to the statement, which indicated that work is underway to develop additional Loyal Wingman aircraft, with plans for scheduled group flights later this year.