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Battle-Ready Loyal Wingman AI Drone to Be Made in Queensland

If you were still under the impression that the Loyal Wingman fighter plane-like drone developed in Australia was just Boeing showing off its skill, think again: the company is determined to make the thing a reality above the world’s battlefields.
Boeing Loyal Wingman 7 photos
Boeing Loyal WingmanBoeing Loyal WingmanBoeing Airpower Teaming SystemBoeing Airpower Teaming SystemBoeing Airpower Teaming SystemBoeing Airpower Teaming System
First shown in its current form in May as part of the Boeing Airpower Teaming System (BATS) program, the Loyal Wingman is getting ready for its first test flight later this year. As it’s gearing up for the procedure, the state of Queensland announced it would be taking over production tasks for the technology once it's ready for production, probably by the middle of the decade.

“Our investment in this advanced manufacturing project will provide critical skills for suppliers, academia and Boeing, and culminate in Queensland becoming the primary final assembly facility for the Boeing Airpower Teaming System, conditional on orders,” said in a statement the state’s Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.

“Supporting this project is a significant investment in the Queensland defence and manufacturing industries and will strengthen ties between Australia and the global defence market."

The Loyal Wingman as it’s called for now is Boeing’s largest investment in a new unmanned aircraft program outside the United States, and the first such major military project to be developed in Australia in over 50 years.

When operational, it will be capable of autonomously fulfilling a variety of roles, from surveillance and reconnaissance to electronic warfare, alongside planes with pilots or all alone. One of its main advantages is that it can rapidly switch between these roles, adapting to whatever needs arise. Technically, the drone can be controlled by humans on the ground, but it has also been designed to perform some of its tasks on its own as well.

The first time we heard about the project was in 2019. It moved very rapidly through development stages and just completed the engine power-up earlier in September.

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