Boeing and Royal Australian Air Force Test “Loyal Wingman” Fighter Drone

The Loyal Wingman fighter drone developed by US manufacturer Boeing in conjunction with the Defence Department and Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) had its first test flight in Woomera.

Loyal Wingman, also known as the Airpower Teaming System (ATS) was first unveiled in February 2019 at Australia’s Avalon airshow and was rolled out in May 2020.

The flight was originally supposed to occur around the end of 2020 but was reportedly met with several delays.

A Boeing test pilot conducted the test at a ground station within the range complex and flew the drone at a pre-determined route at varying speeds and altitudes to test basic flight functionality and performance capabilities.

“Initial flights are usually short, but we went through all the steps we were looking to achieve,” said Dr Shane Arnott, program director of the Boeing Airpower Teaming System (ATS).

The ATS is expected to be utilized in electronic warfare and reconnaissance missions, particularly in missions where it is considered risky to deploy manned aircraft.

The Loyal Wingman prototype would be the foundation for future platforms due to the versatility of its design.

“The Loyal Wingman’s first flight is a major step in this long-term, significant project for the Air Force and Boeing Australia, and we’re thrilled to be a part of the successful test,” said Air-Vice Marshal Cath Roberts, the RAAF’s Head of Capability.

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