Boeing, in partnership with the Queensland Government, has selected Toowoomba as the preferred site for the company’s first aircraft assembly facility of its kind outside of North America. Boeing Australia will establish the facility in the Wellcamp Aerospace and Defence Precinct at Wellcamp Airport to produce and assemble the Boeing Airpower Teaming System (also known as Loyal Wingman), the first military combat aircraft designed, developed and manufactured in Australia in half a century. The aircraft made its first flight in February 2021.
The partnership to establish the facility will create new opportunities for Toowoomba, bringing jobs and skill development to the region and the state. Wagner Corporation expects that this facility will support approximately 300 jobs during construction and will create highly skilled jobs, furthering Queensland’s status as a centre for defence industries. Treasurer and Minister for Investment Cameron Dick said today’s announcement reinforced the strength of the state’s almost 25-year relationship with Boeing.
“This announcement follows our success with Australia’s first commercial drone flight testing facility at Cloncurry Airport last December, of which Boeing was a first user. It’s the result of an arrangement our government entered into with Boeing Australia last year to support the establishment of the primary final assembly facility for the Boeing Loyal Wingman here in Queensland, subject to defence orders. It’s expected the project could generate up to $1 billion dollars for Queensland’s economy over 10 years, with more than just defence industries to benefit,” said Dick.
“In choosing Wellcamp Airport, Boeing have taken an important step towards delivering their purpose-built final assembly facility. This has the potential to greatly improve our state’s advanced manufacturing capability and help shape a workforce of Queenslanders with the skills to build some of the world’s most cutting-edge aircraft,” said Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.
This project delivers on the vision of the Queensland Defence Industries 10-year Roadmap and Action Plan, which aims to significantly increase defence revenue and generate 3,500 new full-time jobs by 2028. The uncrewed aircraft is designed to operate as a team, using artificial intelligence to extend the capabilities of crewed and uncrewed platforms. The selection of Wellcamp Airport as Boeing’s preferred location for the company’s first final assembly production facility is indicative of Boeing’s global focus and support for Australia’s sovereign defence capability growth, supply chain and export opportunities.
The Boeing Airpower Teaming System (ATS), also known as the Loyal Wingman project, is a stealth, multirole, unmanned aerial vehicle in development by Boeing Australia for the Royal Australian Air Force designed as a force multiplier aircraft capable of flying alongside manned aircraft for support and performing autonomous missions independently using artificial intelligence. One role will be to support manned Royal Australian Air Force aircraft, such as the F-35A, F/A-18F, and E-7A 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 as well as operating independently.