Australia unveils first Boeing “Loyal Wingman” Airpower Teaming System prototype

The Loyal Wingman ATS prototype. Photo c/o Boeing.

Boeing Australia has unveiled the first prototype of the “Loyal Wingman” Airpower Teaming System (ATS) unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) developed for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) during ceremonies on 5 May 2020.

Three (3) prototypes are expected to be built by Boeing for testing and development under the RAAF’s DEF6014 Phase 1 Loyal Wingman Advanced Development Program. It is considered Boeing’s first clean-sheet aircraft development outside the United States, and Australia’s first military aircraft built in Australia in the last 50 years.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison calls the event “a truly historic moment for our country and for Australian defence innovation. The Loyal Wingman will be pivotal to exploring the critical capabilities our Air Force needs to protect our nation and its allies in the future”.

The Loyal Wingman ATS will allow availability of additional platforms to conduct missions, while also allowing pilot safety by assigning the lower-cost aircraft for risky missions.

Instead of being remote controlled, the 11.5-meter long Loyal Wingman ATS will be using artificial intelligence (AI) and will be semi-autonomous to assist both manned and remotely-controlled unmanned aircraft. It will have an operational range of more than 3,000 kilometers, will have a reconfigurable nose section with mission-specific sensors and payload, and open-architecture payload intefaces to allow easy role changing to meet evolving mission requirements.

Once operational, the Loyal Wingman is expected to be paired with RAAF pre-dominantly Boeing-made aircraft like the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet fighter aircraft, EA-18G Growler electronic warfare aircraft, E-7 Wedgetail early warning & control aircraft, P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft, and the Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter.

Two more prototypes are expected to be unveiled by Boeing soon.

[1] Australian Aviation
[2] Jane’s International Defence Review
[3] Defense Web TV

Australia unveils first Boeing “Loyal Wingman” Airpower Teaming System prototype Australia unveils first Boeing “Loyal Wingman” Airpower Teaming System prototype Reviewed by Asia Pacific Defense Journal on May 07, 2020 Rating: 5

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