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Loyal Wingman, the drone that will escort Australian fighters, is flying for the first time

On March 2, the first flight of the unmanned aircraft Loyal Wingman, developed by Boeing Australia with the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), took place. The aircraft took off and landed on its own and carried out a test flight, during which the operation of all systems was checked and the performance was validated in the Woomera test complex.

For the RAAF, the Loyal Wingman Project is a groundbreaking program to study the integration of autonomous systems and artificial intelligence in order to develop joint teams between manned and unmanned aircraft or Manned-Unmanned Team (MUM-T). It is also the first aircraft to be designed and manufactured in Australia in more than 50 years. It’s been created in just three years since design began.

This first aircraft serves as the basis for the consolidation of the Boeing Airpower Teaming System, which is being developed for several international matches. In addition, work is underway to build a second aircraft, which is expected to fly by the end of this year.

Boeing presented this unmanned aircraft during the Australian International Air Show in February 2019, which was intended to accompany manned aircraft on combat missions. This happens alongside state-of-the-art manned platforms such as the F-35 Lightning II in the most dangerous missions, in which electronic warfare or intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) tasks are carried out in conjunction with manned platforms. Use artificial intelligence to fly autonomously or to maneuver autonomously around the operator in a coordinated manner and avoid the risk of collision. This is a device that can be configured depending on the type of mission and is similar in size to a modern fighter aircraft, 11.7 meters long and with a range of more than 2,000 nautical miles. (Jos M Navarro Garca)

Photo: The Loyal Wingman during his first flight (Boeing Video Capture)

The plane on the ground (Boeing)

The order of the first flight (Boeing)

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