The Boeing Airpower Teaming System (ATS), also known as the Loyal Wingman project, is a stealth unmanned aerial vehicle in development by Boeing Australia to perform autonomous missions using artificial intelligence.
Australian government announced it will to co-develop a further three Loyal Wingman aircraft to advance the air-teaming vehicle, payloads and associated support and training capabilities. The Morrison Government will invest a further $115 million in the Boeing Loyal Wingman program to continue developing the Australian-designed and built aircraft.
This will see Australia acquire three additional aircraft to help develop teaming tactics with our crewed platforms.
It comes as the first Loyal Wingman completed its inaugural flight over the weekend, taking off and landing at the Woomera Range Complex, South Australia.
The Acting Minister for Defence, Senator the Hon Marise Payne said the Loyal Wingman program is testament to the ingenuity of Australia’s defence industry.
“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,” Minister Payne said.
At the same time, the program is supporting Australian jobs and boosting Australia’s Defence Industry. “Through this Government’s investment in the Loyal Wingman program, 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.”
The Morrison Government has already invested up to $40 million in the program, which is helping Defence understand the interplay of piloted and remotely piloted air team systems and how they can contribute to Australia’s defence and national security objectives.
“Today’s additional investment is part of the Morrison Government’s unprecedented $270 billion investment in defence capability over the next decade,” Minister Payne said. “Our experience with the Loyal Wingman program so far has allowed this Government to confidently support the next stage of development.
The Loyal Wingman has a range of more than 3,700 kilometres, helping to project power forward while keeping crewed capabilities out of harm’s way. The additional investment will ensure ongoing support of the current workforce and increased footprint in areas including advanced mission system software development, high technology aircraft manufacturing and uncrewed aircraft flight testing.
“The Australian government’s continued investment in the innovative Loyal Wingman program will create jobs and opportunities for over 35 Australian suppliers and small businesses, including BAE Systems Australia, RUAG Australia, AME Systems and Ferra Engineering,” said Dr. Brendan Nelson, president of Boeing Australia, New Zealand & South Pacific.
The contract will support the maturation of the aircraft design, evolution of current and future payloads, and create the sustainment system for the aircraft in operations. It will also advance Airpower Teaming System advanced concepts through digital testing and demonstration.
“In addition to progressing the air vehicle design and support system, we will further develop the aircraft’s mission system including advanced AI decision-making capabilities and new payloads,” said Dr. Shane Arnott, program director of the Boeing Airpower Teaming System.
“Continued digital engineering and significantly expanded live testing of the system will provide RAAF and Boeing with the ability to jointly take the concept to the next level, activities that are critical for us to rapidly understand how the Airpower Teaming System can be employed in the future battlespace.”