Boeing Australia has unveiled a model of its newest unmanned platform, designed to fly independently or alongside military aircraft.
Known as Boeing Airpower Teaming System, the system has been designed for global defence customers. It is Boeing’s largest investment in a new unmanned aircraft programme outside the US.
Introduced at the Australian International Airshow at Avalon Airport, the new model is intended to complement and extend airborne missions through smart teaming with existing military aircraft.
The company will partner with the Australian Government to produce a concept demonstrator called the Loyal Wingman-Advanced Development Program under a research and development project. Australia will invest up to A$40m ($28.65m) in the prototype programme.
Feedback obtained from the concept model will assist the company during the production of the Boeing Airpower Teaming System.
Boeing Autonomous Systems vice-president and general manager Kristin Robertson said: “The Boeing Airpower Teaming System will provide a disruptive advantage for allied forces’ manned/unmanned missions.
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“With its ability to reconfigure quickly and perform different types of missions in tandem with other aircraft, our newest addition to Boeing’s portfolio will truly be a force multiplier as it protects and projects air power.”
Measuring 38ft in length, the Australian-designed and developed unmanned system will provide fighter-like performance and can fly more than 2,000nm.
In addition, the Boeing Airpower Teaming System will enable the integration of sensor packages on-board to support intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions and electronic warfare.
The aircraft will use artificial intelligence technology to be able to fly independently or in support of manned aircraft while maintaining a safe distance between other aircraft.
Boeing International president Marc Allen said: “This aircraft is a historic endeavour for Boeing. Not only is it developed outside the US, it is also designed so that our global customers can integrate local content to meet their country-specific requirements.
“The Boeing Airpower Teaming System provides a transformational capability in terms of defence, and our customers, led by Australia, effectively become partners on the programme with the ability to grow their own sovereign capabilities to support it, including a high-tech workforce.”
The company plans to undertake the first flight of the unmanned aircraft next year.
Australia Defence Minister Christopher Pyne said: “The partnership will produce a concept demonstrator of a low cost unmanned ‘Loyal Wingman’ aircraft, capable of operating in concert with airforce’s fifth-generation air combat capability.”