Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Boeing’s unmanned combat aircraft completes key taxi test

Boeing’s Australia division, based in Brisbane, has announced on Mandy that pre-production unmanned teaming aircraft, called the Loyal Wingman, completed the first high-speed taxi test in preparation for first flight.

“We’ve reached high-speed taxi testing ahead of the Loyal Wingman’s first flight with Royal Australian Air Force in early 2021,” the company said in a Twitter post Monday.

The details were given in a 21 December media release, to announce Boeing test personnel monitored the aircraft’s performance and instrumentation from a ground control station to verify the functionality while the vehicle reached accelerated speeds. The uncrewed aircraft has been undergoing low-, medium-, and high-speed taxi testing at a remote test location in Australia.

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“Our test program is progressing well, and we are happy with the ground test data we have collected to date,” said Paul Ryder, Boeing Flight Test manager. “We are working with the Air Warfare Centre to complete final test verifications to prepare for flight testing in the new year.”

Boeing and the Royal Australian Air Force will resume final taxi tests and preparations for flight in early 2021 when the range reopens.

RAAF Head of Air Force Capability Air Vice-Marshal Cath Roberts said seeing the aircraft in person during the December trials had been extraordinary.

“There is something very special about testing an aircraft that takes technology to the next level. It is iconic in its own way,” said Roberts. “Experiencing the enthusiasm of the Boeing and Air Force team reminded me of my early career testing aircraft.”

“This is what innovation is all about – working together to achieve many firsts,” she said.

More than 35 Australian suppliers on the Australian industry team have contributed to the aircraft development, including investment partner BAE Systems Australia, which has been embedded with the Boeing test team on-site.

“In the past year alone, we have made amazing strides on this aircraft, taking it from a fuselage to a finished aircraft that has undergone rigorous testing,” said Dr. Shane Arnott, program director of the Boeing Airpower Teaming System. “Our focus now is on conducting a safe and secure flight-test regimen for the Loyal Wingman program.”

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About this Author

Daisuke Sato
Daisuke Sato is defense reporter, covering the Asia-Pacific defense industrial base, defense markets and all related issues.

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