Boeing’s Loyal Wingman Drone Prototype Completes High-speed Taxi Test

Boeing’s Loyal Wingman Drone Prototype Completes High-speed Taxi Test
Source: Boeing

The Royal Australian Air Force and Boeing Defence Australia have successfully completed the first high-speed taxi test of the Loyal Wingman in preparation for the first flight of the next-generation platform.

“We’ve reached high-speed taxi testing ahead of the Loyal Wingman’s first flight with Royal Australian Air Force in early 2021,” the company said in a Twitter post Monday.

The details were given in a 21 December media release, to announce Boeing test personnel monitored the aircraft’s performance and instrumentation from a ground control station to verify the functionality while the vehicle reached accelerated speeds. The uncrewed aircraft has been undergoing low-, medium-, and high-speed taxi testing at a remote test location in Australia.

“Our test program is progressing well, and we are happy with the ground test data we have collected to date,” said Paul Ryder, Boeing Flight Test manager. “We are working with the Air Warfare Centre to complete final test verifications to prepare for flight testing in the new year.”

Boeing and the Royal Australian Air Force will resume final taxi tests and preparations for flight in early 2021 when the range reopens.

The Loyal Wingman has been designed to fly alongside other platforms, using artificial intelligence for teaming missions. The uncrewed aerial system has advanced design and flight characteristics, including a customisable modular nose section, and a conventional take-off and landing approach.

The Loyal Wingman will have a range of more than 3,700 kilometres, enabling Defence to better understand how these types of aircraft can be used as a force-multiplier, helping to project power forward while keeping manned capabilities out of harm’s way.

The aircraft was engineered using a digital twin to model its structures, systems, capabilities and full life cycle requirements; manufactured with Boeing’s largest-ever resin-infused single composite piece; and assembled using proven advanced manufacturing processes.

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