Boeing’s Australia division announced on Wednesday the launch of the Boeing Airpower Teaming System, an AI-powered drone capable of flying independently or in support of crewed aircraft.
It is a machine that can be teamed up with a number of existing military aircraft and perform a variety of purposes, from surveillance and reconnaissance to electronic warfare. The drone can quickly switch between roles if it needs to, depending on the situation.
While on a mission, the drone uses its AI, for instance, to maintain the distance between it and the aircraft it accompanies, adjusting it constantly.
“The Boeing Airpower Teaming System will provide a disruptive advantage for allied forces’ manned / unmanned missions,” said in a statement Kristin Robertson, vice president and general manager of Boeing Autonomous Systems.
“With its ability to reconfigure quickly and perform different types of missions in tandem with other aircraft, our newest addition to Boeing’s portfolio will truly be a force multiplier as it protects and projects air power.”
A prototype of the drone was presented by Boeing Australia during the Australian International Airshow this week as Boeing’s largest investment in a UAV outside the United States.
The company did not say how soon BATS could be deployed in the skies above Australia - the first flight is scheduled for 2020 - but it did show animations of the drones flying in sync with a Royal Australian Air Force F/A-18 fighter and an E-7 Wedgetail.