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Boeing-led Australian industry team has presented the first unmanned LOYAL WINGMAN aircraft to the Royal Australian Air Force, a historic milestone for both company and Commonwealth. The aircraft now moves into the ground testing phase, followed by taxi and first flight before year end.

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 the United States.

As the first of three prototypes for Australia’s LOYAL WINGMAN advanced development programme, the aircraft also serves as the foundation for the Boeing Airpower Teaming System (ATS) being developed for the global defence market.

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,” stated Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

This project is an excellent example of innovation through collaboration and what can be achieved working together with defence industry […] 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,” added Chief of the RAAF, Air Mshl Mel Hupfeld.

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 has 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 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,” commented Kristin Robertson, Vice President and General Manager of Autonomous Systems for Boeing Defense, Space & Security.

The first LOYAL WINGMAN air vehicle will now proceed to the ground test phase of the development and evaluation programme. (Photo: Boeing)

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