Boeing has been developing unmanned aircraft which can operate along with manned combat aircraft under it’s Air Power Teaming Systems programme. These are artificial intelligence enhanced unmanned aircraft which exponentially increase the capability of manned aircraft. The most important thing is that they can operate with manned aircraft for various missions. Boeing has been developing one of the versions in Australia and it is called the Loyal Wingman.

Image Courtesy Boeing

The Loyal Wingman is expected to have fighter aircraft like capability. It is 11.7 m long and has a range of 2,000 nautical miles, that is 3,600 Km. It integrates a sensor package onboard which allows it to participate in  intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, tactical early warning missions and more. The Loyal Wingman uses artificial intelligence to fly independently. It can also fly in support of manned aircraft while maintaining safe distance between other aircraft.

The Loyal Wingman is the largest investment made by Boeing in unmanned aircraft outside of the USA. It is the first aircraft to be designed, developed and manufactured in Australia in 50 years. More than 35 Australian companies across four states in the country are supporting the development of the Loyal Wingman.

Image Courtesy Boeing

The aircraft was engineered using a digital twin to model its structures, systems, capabilities and full life-cycle requirements. It is manufactured with Boeing’s largest-ever resin-infused single composite piece. The aircraft has been assembled using proven advanced manufacturing processes. The first prototype has rolled out and is being readied for ground testing. This will be followed by taxi and first flight later in 2020.