Boeing has expanded its flight-test programme of its Airpower Teaming System (ATS), a new unmanned ‘Loyal Wingman’ jet to work alongside manned fighter jets.
Two of the aircraft have successfully completed separate flight missions at the Woomera Range Complex in Australia recently.
The first Loyal Wingman aircraft developed with the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) demonstrated a range of key characteristics during the test flights to continue to expand the flight envelope. A second aircraft also successfully completed its first flight mission.
Throughout the flight-test missions, the teams gathered aircraft performance data that will be used to inform and refine the digital twin of ATS, with the view to accelerate the aircraft’s development where possible.
The digital twin models the system’s entire lifecycle, from design and development to production and sustainment, and contributes to speed and first-time quality.
“We’re in a steady rhythm of flight testing on the way to mission and operational testing, enabling Boeing Australia, RAAF and our Australian industry team of more than 35 companies to progressively advance the flight characteristics and capabilities of the uncrewed teaming system,” said Glen Ferguson, director of Boeing Airpower Teaming System – Australia and International. “I’d like to extend my thanks to our capability partner BAE Systems Australia, and to RUAG Australia for their specific roles in this latest test block.”
The flight tests of aircraft one included the first time the landing gear was raised and engaged.
RUAG Australia supplied the landing gear systems to the aircraft, and BAE Systems Australia was integral in the design, supply and support of the flight control and navigation systems tested as part of the flights.
“This is a great achievement for home-grown, Australian autonomous capabilities,” said BAE Systems Australia CEO Gabby Costigan. “Our partnership underpins a shared commitment to develop sovereign technologies and deliver a cutting-edge program for the nation’s defence.”
The first batch of Loyal Wingman aircraft are serving as the foundation for the Boeing ATS being developed for various global defence customers. The aircraft will fly alongside other platforms, using artificial intelligence to team with existing crewed and uncrewed assets to complement mission capabilities.