on Nov. 19, 2019, Boeing Australia announced the successful test surrogate drones for Australia’s loyal wingman program, and released an accompanying video, on social media.
Boeing says that its Australian subsidiary has used systems developed in that country to enable a pair of unmanned, subscale, jet-powered test aircraft to conduct a semi-autonomous teamed flight for the very first time.
This is part of the development of the Airpower Teaming System for the Royal Australian Air Force, which centered around a stealthy “loyal wingman” drone intended to work together with that service’s manned platforms, including its F-35A Joint Strike Fighters.
The Chicago-headquartered plane maker had officially unveiled the Airpower Teaming System (ATS) effort at the Avalon Air Show in Australia on Feb. 27
Boeing is under contract to build an initial demonstrator as part of the previously classified Loyal Wingman Advanced Development Program, which dates back at least to 2018.
The Australian government expects to spend $28.5 million on the project over the next four years and Boeing is also helping with funding the work on the demonstrator through a separate agreement to invest around $42 million, in total, on various research and development programs in Australia.
“We successfully achieved our first autonomous teamed flights using high-performance jets as testbeds and Australian-developed missions systems technology!” Boeing’s announcement on Facebook said. “Our team tested the jets’ abilities to safely communicate and coordinate with each other.”
The two jet-powered drones reportedly flew at speeds up to around 186 miles per hour during the test flight. Boeing did not elaborate on any of the specific test points but did add “next, we’ll try more complex maneuvers, increasing teaming formation numbers and more complex missions.”
Sources: Facebook; The Drive