Second LOYAL WINGMAN Joins Programme
Boeing Australia has expanded its flight-test programme for the Boeing Airpower Teaming System (BATS), with a second LOYAL WINGMAN joining the programme recently, the company announced on 4 November.
Developed with the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), the first LOYAL WINGMAN continued to expand the flight envelope, while a second aircraft successfully completed its first flight mission. Air Vice-Marshal Cath Roberts, RAAF Head of Air Force Capability, explained this “opens up significant capability agility for Air Force, particularly with features such as the reconfigurable nose […] 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.”
Flight testing has provided aircraft performance data used to inform and refine the digital twin of the BATS, with a view to accelerating development where possible. The digital twin models the system’s entire lifecycle, from design and development to production and sustainment, and contributes to speed and first-time quality.
“We’re in a steady rhythm of flight testing on the way to mission and operational testing, enabling Boeing Australia, RAAF and our Australian industry team of more than 35 companies to progressively advance the flight characteristics and capabilities of the uncrewed teaming system,” explained Glen Ferguson, Director of BATS – Australia and International.
RUAG Australia supplies the landing gear systems, while BAE Systems Australia is integral to the design, supply and support of flight control and navigation systems. “This is a great achievement for homegrown, Australian autonomous capabilities,” commented BAE Systems Australia CEO, Gabby Costigan. “Our partnership underpins a shared commitment to develop sovereign technologies and deliver a cutting-edge programme for the nation’s defence.”
The first batch of LOYAL WINGMAN is serving as the foundation for the BATS under development for multiple defence customers. The aircraft will fly alongside other platforms, using artificial intelligence to team with existing manned and unmanned assets to complement mission capabilities.