Boeing Australia advances the developments of Loyal Wingman for the RAAF

Boeing Australia’s first Loyal Wingman unmanned aircraft prototype has stood on its own wheels and powered up its electrical system for the first time, the company announced on 8 April.

The latest development milestones follow the assembly of the first aircraft’s fuselage structure in February 2020 and will lead to further systems installation and functional and integration testing from the aircraft’s own landing gear.

The unmanned aircraft is one of three prototypes that are being developed as a part of the Loyal Wingman-Advanced Development Programme – also known as the Boeing Airpower Teaming System (ATS) – in partnership with the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF).

“The weight on wheels milestone is when the main fuselage sits on its wheels for the first time,” Dr Shane Arnott, programme director of the Boeing ATS, told Jane’s in an emailed statement. “Power [has also been] turned on through the vehicle electrical distribution system which supports start of factory acceptance testing.

“The milestones allow for rapid progress on systems installation and functional and integration testing from the aircraft’s own landing gear,” he added.

“Following factory acceptance of the aircraft, it will go into taxi testing in advance of first flight, which will take place in 2020 in Australia – beyond that, we’re not offering specific dates or the locations of the flight,” Dr Arnott explained. “However, we know an aircraft of this type must be designed for rapid production and testing, and we’ve done just that.”

The first prototype will also provide key lessons towards production of the ATS, which Boeing Australia is developing for the global defence market. It is envisioned that prospective operators will be able to tailor ATS sensors and systems to meet their specific requirements.

Jane’s earlier reported that more than 20 companies are supporting Boeing Australia in this effort, with design, development, and manufacturing of the prototypes being carried out across three undisclosed Australian states, although Boeing declined to name specific locations.

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