Boeing Australia powered up the commercial turbofan engine on the first Loyal Wingman aircraft in September, as part of ground testing and preparations for first flight.
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This milestone comes on the heels of Boeing completing the first unmanned Loyal Wingman aircraft for the Royal Australian Air Force earlier this year, a major step forward for the unmanned vehicle serving as the foundation for the global Boeing Airpower Teaming System, an artificial intelligence-powered teaming aircraft developed for the global defence market.
Dr Shane Arnott, program director of the Boeing Airpower Teaming System, said, “This engine run gets us closer toward flying the first aircraft later this year and was successful thanks to the collaboration and dedication of our team.
“We’ve been able to select a very light, off-the-shelf jet engine for the unmanned system as a result of the advanced manufacturing technologies applied to the aircraft.”
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 Loyal Wingman will have a range of more than 3,700 kilometres, enabling Defence to better understand how these types of aircraft can be used as a force-multiplier, helping to project power forward while keeping manned capabilities out of harm’s way.
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.
The Loyal Wingman prototype now moves into ground testing, followed by taxi and first flight in late-2020.