The Australian Department of Defence has announced that the government will make additional $115m investment in the Boeing Loyal Wingman programme.

The investment will see Australia procure three additional aircraft to help the country develop ‘teaming tactics’ using crewed platforms.

Loyal Wingman is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) being developed by Boeing Australia in collaboration with the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF).

The company has welcomed the government’s decision to co-develop an additional three Loyal Wingman aircraft to further the plane’s capabilities.

Boeing Australia, New Zealand & South Pacific president Brendan Nelson said: “The Australian government’s continued investment in the innovative Loyal Wingman programme will create jobs and opportunities for over 35 Australian suppliers and small businesses, including BAE Systems Australia, RUAG Australia, AME Systems and Ferra Engineering.”

Boeing noted that the contract would support the maturation of the aircraft design and evolution of current and future payloads.

It would also create the sustainment system for the aircraft in operations.

Australia Acting Defence Minister Marise Payne said: “Air Force and Boeing are delivering world leading, cutting edge capability that will help protect and support Australia’s most valuable Defence aircraft, and the pilots who fly them.

“At the same time, the programme is supporting Australian jobs and boosting Australia’s Defence Industry.

“Through this Government’s investment in the Loyal Wingman programme, we have helped secure over 100 Australian jobs.

“This includes 33 highly skilled aviation engineering jobs in Victoria that would otherwise have been made redundant in the midst of Covid-19.”

Recently, Boeing Australia and RAAF completed the first flight test of the Loyal Wingman uncrewed aircraft.