A new Queensland-based manufacturing hub for the next-generation unmanned aircraft has been announced.
Boeing Australia has unveiled the launch of a new manufacturing facility for its Loyal Wingman unmanned aircraft at Wellcamp Airport in Toowoomba, Queensland.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk was onsite at Wellcamp to welcome the announcement, noting that it’s the first time Chicago-based aerospace giant Boeing has constructed such a facility outside of the US.
“This is a massive coup for Queensland,” she said of the partnership.
The new facility, based at what will now be called the Wellcamp Aerospace and Defence Precinct, will manufacture part of the aircraft, as well as complete its final assembly.
The facility’s initial development is set to take place over the next 12 months. It is not yet known when the facility will be operational.
“In choosing Wellcamp Airport, Boeing has taken an important step towards delivering their purpose-built final assembly facility,” Premier Palaszczuk said in a statement.
“This has the potential to greatly improve our state’s advanced manufacturing capability and help shape a workforce of Queenslanders with the skills to build some of the world’s most cutting-edge aircraft.”
Queensland Treasurer Cameron Dick said that Boeing had “scoured the state looking all over for the best place to manufacture this aircraft”.
“They have decided that the Wellcamp precinct at Wellcamp Airport is the best place for that facility to be constructed,” he said.
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Boeing Defence Australia vice president and managing director Scott Carpendale said, “The Wellcamp Aerospace and Defence Precinct location is attractive due to its access to a flight line, clear flying days, commercial flight access from major cities and ability to support the rapid pace at which the Airpower Teaming System program is growing.
“Sustainable aerospace is a critical focus for Boeing, and Wagner Corporation’s use of sustainable construction methods supports our vision to create a leading sustainable aerospace manufacturing facility from the ground up, including renewable technologies and human-centric design.”
Notably, Wagner Corporation also recently penned an agreement with the Queensland government for the creation of a 1,000-bed purpose-built quarantine facility for overseas arrivals, also located near Wellcamp Airport and within the Wellcamp Business Precinct.
Wagner Corporation chairman John Wagner said Boeing’s selection of Toowoomba Wellcamp Airport for its newest uncrewed aircraft production facility was a major boost for the region, bringing at least 300 new local jobs.
“Attracting investment and global companies such as Boeing to Toowoomba is recognition of the strategic advantages the Wellcamp Airport site offers, including access to the future Inland Rail,” Wagner said.
The Loyal Wingman unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) is the first military combat aircraft designed, developed and manufactured in Australia in half a century.
It measures 11.7 metres long, has a range of 2,000 nautical miles, and is expected to deliver fighter-like performance, while also offering intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities.
The drones are designed to leverage artificial intelligence to fly independently or in support of manned aircraft while maintaining safe distance between other jets.
The Australian government initially ordered three aircraft, but has since doubled the size of the fleet, following the Loyal Wingman’s first successful flight in February 2021.
With the announcement of the new facility, Wagner Corporation also announced that Wellcamp Airport would also now be home to the new Wellcamp Aerospace and Defence Precinct, with Boeing Australia as the foundation tenant.
“With governments and the private sector in Australia and internationally making massive investment in aerospace, advanced manufacturing and defence capabilities, the timing is absolutely right for us to develop a precinct of this calibre so that investment can be made right here in Queensland at Wellcamp,” Wagner said.