Successful first test flight for Loyal Wingman

Boeing Australia and the Royal Australian Air Force have announced a successfully completed first test flight for the Boeing Loyal Wingman autonomous plane, the first military aircraft to be designed and manufactured in Australia in over half a century.  

The plane flew under the supervision of a Boeing test pilot in a ground station at Woomera Range Complex in South Australia.

“Following a series of taxi tests validating ground handling, navigation and control, and pilot interface, the aircraft completed a successful takeoff under its own power before flying a pre-determined route at different speeds and altitudes to verify flight functionality and demonstrate the performance of the Airpower Teaming System design,” explained Boeing in a statement.

Cath Roberts of the RAAF called the milestone a major step forward in a major program, and a pathfinder for creating smart human-machine teams by integrating autonomous systems with artificial intelligence. 

“Through this project we are learning how to integrate these new capabilities to complement and extend air combat and other missions,” said Roberts.

The Loyal Wingman is an 11.7-metre aircraft being developed by Boeing Defence Australia and the Royal Australian Air Force, with a team of over 35 Australian participants, including BAE, Ferra Engineering and RUAG Australia. 

It is the first military aircraft to be developed and built locally in more than 50 years, and will fly in company with unmanned and manned aircraft, such as the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

“This first Loyal Wingman aircraft is serving as the foundation for the Boeing Airpower Teaming System being developed for various global defense customers,” said Boeing. 

Picture: Boeing Australia

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