Boeing’s Loyal Wingman combat drone has achieved two more development milestones by taking its weight on its wheels for the first time and having aircraft power switched on. Coming only weeks after the assembly of the fuselage was completed, the company says this marks the rapid progress of the Wingman’s systems installation and functional and integration testing of the aircraft’s landing gear.
The first of three Loyal Wingman prototypes is being developed for the Royal Australian Air Force’s (RAAF) Loyal Wingman – Advanced Development Program. The aim is to produce a jet-powered autonomous drone that can operate alongside UAVs and manned combat aircraft.
This effort includes a coalition of 16 Australian industries and is aimed at the global market. The 38-ft (11.7-m) long drone uses digital engineering and advanced composite materials and includes sensors that can be configured to suit the customer’s needs.
Looking like a cockpit-less fighter jet, the Loyal Wingman will have a range of 2,000 nm (2,301 mi, 3,704 km) and “fighter-like performance.” What offensive armament it will include has yet to be announced, but the drone’s systems will include electronic warfare systems and sensor packages for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions.
“We’re continuing at pace toward our goal of flying later this year, so that we can show our customer and the world what unmanned capability like this can do,” says Shane Arnott, program director of the Boeing Airpower Teaming System. “The strong contributions from our industry team are powering our progress.”
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