Boeing Australia and the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) have completed the first high-speed taxi test of the Loyal Wingman in preparation for first flight. Boeing test personnel monitored the aircraft’s performance and instrumentation from a ground control station to verify the functionality while the vehicle reached accelerated speeds. The uncrewed aircraft has been undergoing low-, medium-, and high-speed taxi testing at a remote test location in Australia. Boeing and the Royal Australian Air Force will resume final taxi tests and preparations for flight in early 2021 when the range reopens.
RAAF Head of Air Force Capability Air Vice-Marshal Cath Roberts said,”Seeing the aircraft in person during the December trials had been extraordinary. There is something very special about testing an aircraft that takes technology to the next level. It is iconic in its own way,” said Roberts. Experiencing the enthusiasm of the Boeing and Air Force team reminded me of my early career testing aircraft. This is what innovation is all about – working together to achieve many firsts,” she said.
“In the past year alone, we have made amazing strides on this aircraft, taking it from a fuselage to a finished aircraft that has undergone rigorous testing,” said Dr. Shane Arnott, program director of the Boeing Airpower Teaming System. “Our focus now is on conducting a safe and secure flight-test regimen for the Loyal Wingman program.”
“Our test program is progressing well, and we are happy with the ground test data we have collected to date,” said Paul Ryder, Boeing Flight Test manager. “We are working with the Air Warfare Centre to complete final test verifications to prepare for flight testing in the new year.”
The Boeing Loyal Wingman project, is a stealth nmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) in development by Boeing Australia to perform autonomous missions using artificial intelligence. The Loyal Wingman is an unmanned aircraft with an interchangeable nose cone which can be quickly interchanged with other modules for a new mission and incorporates artificial intelligence. One role will be to support manned Royal Australian Air Force aircraft, such as the F-35, F/A-18E/F, and E-7A Wedgetail with the purpose of defence and surveillance. The UAV will be designed to act as a “loyal wingman” that is controlled by a parent aircraft to accomplish tasks such as scouting or absorbing enemy fire if attacked.