Australia has expanded the flight-test programme of the Boeing Airpower Teaming System
, with two aircraft recently completing separate flight missions at the Woomera Range Complex.
The first Loyal Wingman aircraft developed with the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) demonstrated a a range of key capabilities during the test flights to continue to expand the flight envelope. A second aircraft also successfully completed its first flight mission.
Air Vice-Marshal Cath Roberts, RAAF head of air force capability, said: “It is so exciting seeing two aircraft in the air as the Loyal Wingman continues to excel in the flight-test programme. This opens up significant capability agility for Air Force, particularly with features such as the reconfigurable nose.”
“We are heavily engaged in the payload development and the element of surprise that it gives us in the battlespace — you never really know what is in the nose.”
Throughout the flight-test missions, the teams gathered aircraft performance data that will be used to inform and refine the digital twin of the Boeing Airpower Teaming System, with the view to accelerate the aircraft’s 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.
Glen Ferguson, director of Boeing Airpower Teaming System — Australia and International, said: “We are 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.”
The flight tests of ‘aircraft one’ included the first time the landing gear was raised and engaged. RUAG Australia supplied the landing gear systems to the aircraft, and BAE Systems Australia was integral in the design, supply and support of the flight control and navigation systems tested as part of the flights.
BAE Systems Australia CEO Gabby Costigan, said: “This is a great achievement for homegrown, Australian autonomous capabilities. Our partnership underpins a shared commitment to develop sovereign technologies and deliver a cutting-edge program for the nation’s defence.”
The first batch of Loyal Wingman aircraft are serving as the foundation for the Boeing Airpower Teaming System being developed for various global defence customers. The aircraft will fly alongside other platforms, using artificial intelligence to team with existing crewed and uncrewed assets to complement mission capabilities.