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Raytheon introduces new MUM-T loyal wingman capability

BQM-34 loyal wingman
A BQM-34 unmanned aircraft prepares to launch at White Sands Missile Range during the August 2021 test. Photo: US Department of Defense

Raytheon recently unveiled its own solution for a “loyal wingman” capability in a joint test with the Pentagon’s Strategic Capabilities Office in late August 2021.

During the test, Raytheon Intelligence & Space, a Raytheon Technologies business, demonstrated three unmanned aircraft that collaborated with each other using Manned Unmanned Teaming (MUM-T) technology. A human operator supervised the completion of a simulated tactical mission.

As explained, the human operator set a mission objective for the unmanned aircraft sing a human machine interface and then supervised conduct of the mission. The unmanned aircraft then collaboratively developed and executed the necessary tactics to fulfill the mission.

“This is a ground-breaking development in the race to fly autonomous aircraft as wingmen for human pilots,” said Brad Tousley, vice president for Advanced Concepts & Technology at Raytheon Intelligence & Space. “Raytheon Intelligence & Space’s technology allowed a human to set the mission and step back as unmanned aircraft decided how to carry out and execute a complex tactical mission directed by the human.”

During the August flight test, the team achieved its primary goal of demonstrating collaborative behavior in an operationally representative environment. The unmanned aircraft collected the types of simulated sensor data that enable crewed fighter aircraft in combat scenarios. Future flight tests will continue maturing the system.

“Raytheon Intelligence & Space is using advanced software that allows a flight of unmanned aircraft to collaborate among themselves to execute a complex mission assigned and supervised by a human pilot,” said Tex Clark, director for Advanced Mission Systems at Raytheon Intelligence & Space. “We’ve packaged all elements of our tech into a system that is controlled by aircrews from a Human Machine Interface. The RI&S system is packaged, deployable and has already been tested at multiple military test ranges.”

The core of the system is an architecture that has been under development for 10 years. Raytheon Intelligence & Space says it continues to build out the architecture by extending the library of behaviors with an open architecture that allows flexibility to integrate new or existing vehicles and payloads. A software development kit also allows third parties to introduce other autonomous behaviors to support future missions.