Home Air Australia flies two loyal wingman UAVs in latest ATS test

Australia flies two loyal wingman UAVs in latest ATS test

RAAF ATS loyal wingman drones
Two loyal wingman aircraft successfully completed separate flight missions. Photo: Boeing

Boeing Australia has expanded its flight-test campaign of the Airpower Teaming System loyal wingman unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) program, flying two aircraft at the Woomera Range Complex recently.

The first loyal wingman aircraft developed with the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) demonstrated a range of key characteristics during the test flights to continue to expand the flight envelope. A second aircraft also successfully completed its first flight mission, according to the company.

“It is so exciting seeing two aircraft in the air as the loyal wingman continues to excel in the flight-test program,” said Air Vice-Marshal Cath Roberts, RAAF Head of Air Force Capability. “This opens up significant capability agility for Air Force, particularly with features such as the reconfigurable nose.”

“We’re heavily engaged in the payload development and the element of surprise that it gives us in the battlespace. You never really know what’s in the nose,” said AVM Roberts.

Australia is funding the construction of a total of six loyal wingman ATS, under two separate contracts. Earlier this week, Boeing revealed it currently had five aircraft in production, having completed the first at its Melbourne factory in May 2020.

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.

“We’re 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,” said Glen Ferguson, director of Boeing Airpower Teaming System – Australia and International. “I’d like to extend my thanks to our capability partner BAE Systems Australia, and to RUAG Australia for their specific roles in this latest test block.”

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.