Loyal Wingman passes another major flight milestone
The unmanned ISR platform is one step closer to becoming Australia’s first domestically designed and built aircraft after completing a series of flight missions.
Boeing’s Loyal Wingman has passed yet another milestone, with two of the Airpower Teaming Systems completing flight missions in South Australia’s Woomera Range Complex.
These latest test flights marked the first time the aircraft’s landing gear was raised and engaged.
The announcement from the Department of Defence comes following the system’s inaugural flight in February this year.
Chief of Air Force, Air Marshal Mel Hupfield lauded the achievement– noting that it has demonstrated the benefits of collaboration between Defence and the local defence industry.
“The Loyal Wingman sets new standards for capability development and shows what collaboration between industry and Defence can achieve,” Air Marshal Hupfeld said.
“Flight testing is increasing throughout the year, and we are on the way to teaming the Loyal Wingman aircraft with existing Air Power platforms.”
Three systems from phase one of the project are scheduled to be delivered by the end of 2021.
“This opens up significant capability agility for Air Force, particularly with features such as the reconfigurable nose,” Head of Air Force Capability, Air Vice-Marshal Cath Roberts said.
“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.”
So far, in excess of 35 local companies have worked on the program such as Whitehorse and Form 2000 – two Australian SMEs who partnered on the manufacture build-to-print components of the aircraft. Other companies include Ferra Engineering, AME Systems, Allied Data Systems and Microelectronic Technologies.
Alongside Boeing, BAE Systems Australia and RUAG Australia have also contributed to the success of the program.
According to a release from the Department of Defence, the system has a range of some 3,700 kilometres, “helping to project airpower forward while contributing as a team with our crewed capabilities.”