The development of Australia’s next-generation ‘Loyal Wingman’ Airpower Teaming System is another step closer to reality with two major milestones achieved ahead of first flight slated for late 2020.
Boeing Australia has confirmed two major program milestones have been achieved as part of the development of Boeing Airpower Teaming System (ATS) with the Royal Australian Air Force.
These milestones include 'weight on wheels' for the fuselage and aircraft power on and come following the recently announced completion of the first fuselage as part of the ongoing prototyping process.
Dr Shane Arnott, program director of the Boeing Airpower Teaming System, welcomed the milestone achievements, saying, "We’re continuing at pace toward our goal of flying later this year, so that we can show our customer and the world what unmanned capability like this can do."
The first Loyal Wingman prototype will provide key lessons towards production of the ATS, which Boeing Australia is developing for the global defence market. Customers will be able to tailor ATS sensors and systems based on their own defence and industrial objectives.
The Australian team has applied digital engineering and advanced composite materials to achieve cost and agility goals for the 11.7-metre aircraft, which is designed to use artificial intelligence in teaming with other manned and unmanned platforms.
Dr Arnott said recently that Australian industry participation had been critical to the program’s rapid development, with a 16-strong Australian industry team making key deliveries to date, including:
- BAE Systems Australia, which has delivered hardware kits, including flight control computers and navigation equipment;
- RUAG Australia, which has delivered the landing gear system;
- Ferra Engineering, which has delivered precision machine components and sub-assemblies to support the program; and
- AME Systems, which has delivered wiring looms to support the vehicle.
"The strong contributions from our industry team are powering our progress," Dr Arnott said.
Air Commodore Darren Goldie, RAAF Director General of Air Combat Capability, added at the time of fuselage completion, "The partnership with Boeing is key to building our understanding of not just the operational implications for these sorts of vehicles, but also making us a smart customer as we consider options for manned-unmanned teaming in the coming decade."