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Boeing Australia Tests Unmanned ‘Loyal Wingman’ Aircraft

Boeing Australia recently tested two unmanned aircraft, expanding its Airpower Teaming System flight testing program.

The Boeing Airpower Teaming System (BATS) comprises an uncrewed aircraft flying in tandem with crewed aircraft on a range of missions such as intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, and tactical early warning. Moreover, the aircraft’s low cost allows operators to confidently use the aircraft on the front line with much less concern about losing the asset in combat.

Unmanned Aircraft Flight Tests

Administrators tested a range of functions, such as raising and engaging the landing gear. The Boeing team collected performance data, which will be used for its BATS digital twin aircraft design and development.

“Throughout the flight-test missions, the teams gathered aircraft performance data that will be used to inform and refine the digital twin of the Boeing Airpower Teaming System, with the view to accelerate the aircraft’s development where possible,” the manufacturer stated.

Reconfigurable Nose

Air Vice-Marshal Cath Roberts, Royal Australian Air Force Head of Air Force Capability, was particularly impressed by the aircraft’s reconfigurable nose.

“It is so exciting seeing two aircraft in the air as the Loyal Wingman continues to excel in the flight-test program,” she said. “This opens up significant capability agility for the air force, particularly with features such as the reconfigurable nose,” he added.

“We’re heavily engaged in the payload development and the element of surprise that it gives us in the battlespace. You never really know what’s in the nose.”

Boeing is developing the autonomous aircraft, capable of flying independently or in support of manned aircraft, for global customers. The 38-ft (11.7-m) vehicle will have a flight range of 2,000 nautical miles (3,704 km or 2,301 miles) and will be integrated with sensor packages to support intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, and tactical early warning missions.

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