by Emerald Pellot | ITK
The Royal Australian Air Force and Boeing Australia unveiled the first military aircraft designed in Australia in over 50 years.
The Australian government invested $40 million in the program and was Boeing’s largest investment in a new unmanned aircraft program based outside of the U.S.
Dubbed the Loyal Wingman, the autonomous unmanned aircraft will have a 3,700-kilometer range. It uses artificial intelligence to broaden the capabilities of manned and unmanned platforms, according to the Boeing press release.
The Royal Australian Air Force debuted the first prototype of the design on Twitter. A video shows the airplane-shaped Loyal Wingman flying alongside others with people inside.
“We are proud to take this significant step forward with the Royal Australian Air Force and show the potential for smart unmanned teaming to serve as a force multiplier,” Kristin Robertson, vice president and general manager of Autonomous Systems for Boeing Defense, Space & Security, said.
“We look forward to getting the aircraft into flight testing and proving out the unmanned teaming concept. We see global allies with those same mission needs, which is why this program is so important to advancing the development of the Boeing Airpower Teaming System.”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the Loyal Wingman will protect the country’s most valuable military aircraft and its pilots. It will also create jobs and boost global export potential by expanding the local defense industry, according to a Defence press release.
“The Loyal Wingman program has helped support around 100 high-tech jobs in Australia,” Morrison said. “Such projects will be critical to bolster growth and support jobs as the economy recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.”
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