The Boeing Australia team recently completed major fuselage structural assembly for the first Loyal Wingman. The unmanned aircraft is one of three prototypes that will be developed and tested in Australia.
The company explains lessons learned from Loyal Wingman, which is being developed as a part of the Loyal Wingman Advanced Development Program in partnership with the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), are being applied to development of a global defense solution called the Boeing Airpower Teaming System (ATS).
“This is an exciting milestone for the development program, and the Australian aerospace industry, as we progress with production of the first military aircraft to be developed in Australia in more than 50 years,” said Dr. Shane Arnott, program director, Boeing ATS.
Boeing explains its Australian team has applied digital engineering and advanced composite materials to achieve cost and agility goals for the 38-foot (11.7-metre) aircraft, which is designed to use artificial intelligence in teaming with other manned and unmanned platforms.
Customers will be able to tailor ATS sensors and systems based on their own defense and industrial objectives. Boeing states the next major milestone will be weight on wheels, when the fuselage structure moves from the assembly jig to the aircraft’s own landing gear to continue systems installation and functional testing. The aircraft is expected to complete its first flight this year.
“The partnership with Boeing is key to building our understanding of not just the operational implications for these sorts of vehicles, but also making us a smart customer as we consider options for manned-unmanned teaming in the coming decade,” said Air Commodore Darren Goldie, RAAF Director-General of Air Combat Capability. “Boeing is progressing very well with its development and we look forward to seeing the final product in the coming months.”
Arnott points to key deliveries made to date by the 16-person Australian industry team, including:
• BAE Systems Australia, which has delivered hardware kits including flight control computers and navigation equipment;
• RUAG Australia, which has delivered the landing gear system;
• Ferra Engineering, which has delivered precision machine components and sub-assemblies to support the program; and
• AME Systems, which has delivered wiring looms to support the vehicle.