Melbourne – Boeing [NYSE: BA] has introduced its newest unmanned platform, the Boeing Airpower Teaming System. Designed for Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) by Boeing Australia, it is the company’s largest investment in a new unmanned aircraft program outside the United States.
The aircraft will complement and extend airborne missions through smart teaming with existing military aircraft.
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A model of the Boeing Airpower Teaming System was unveiled at the Australian International Airshow by the Australian Minister for Defence, the Hon Christopher Pyne MP. As a research and development activity, the Australian Government and Boeing will produce a concept demonstrator called the Loyal Wingman – Advanced Development Program that will provide key learnings toward the production of the Boeing Airpower Teaming System.
The Australian government is investing A$40 million ($28.75 million) in the prototype program due to its “enormous capability for exports,” Minister for Defence Christopher Pyne told reporters at the Australian International Airshow.
“The Boeing Airpower Teaming System will provide a disruptive advantage for allied forces’ manned/unmanned missions,” said Kristin Robertson, vice president and general manager of Boeing Autonomous Systems. “With its ability to reconfigure quickly and perform different types of missions in tandem with other aircraft, our newest addition to Boeing’s portfolio will truly be a force multiplier as it protects and projects air power.”
The Boeing Airpower Teaming System will:
- Provide fighter-like performance, measuring 38 feet long (11.7m) and able to fly more than 2,000 nautical miles
- Integrate sensor packages onboard to support intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions and electronic warfare
- Use artificial intelligence to fly independently or in support of manned aircraft while maintaining safe distance between other aircraft.
In addition to performing like a fighter jet, other roles for the Boeing system include electronic warfare, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance alongside aircraft like the P-8 Poseidon and E-7 Wedgetail, said Kristin Robertson, vice president and general manager of Boeing Autonomous Systems.
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“I would say we are some years away from exports, we are probably years away from it being in operation here in Australia,” Pyne said. “It is designed to be a cheaper platform, a shield if you like around the more expensive platforms, to protect our servicemen and women who might be on a Poseidon or a Wedgetail or a F-35A.”
Its first flight is expected in 2020, with Boeing and the Australian government producing a concept demonstrator to pave the way for full production.
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