Boeing’s First Aircraft Factory Outside U.S. to Make the Scary Loyal Wingman Drone

Boeing Loyal Wingman 6 photos
Photo: Boeing
Boeing Loyal Wingman in flightBoeing Loyal Wingman in flightBoeing Loyal Wingman in flightBoeing Loyal WingmanBoeing Loyal Wingman in flight
Back in February this year, Boeing flew over Australia something it calls Boeing Airpower Teaming System. We’re talking about a drone that also has the name Loyal Wingman, because that’s what it is supposed to do: fly in support of allied airplanes conducting missions. And now, the place where the thing will be built has been chosen.
It’s been known for a while now that the Wingman will be assembled somewhere Down Under, but it was only this week that the American aerospace company announced the exact location: Toowoomba, in Queensland, Australia.

Boeing says it will establish the production facility, the “company’s first aircraft assembly facility of its kind outside of North America,” in the Wellcamp Aerospace and Defence Precinct at the local Wellcamp Airport. Some 300 people will be needed for the production efforts, and the parties involved estimate the project could generate up to $1 billion for the local economy over the next ten years.

The Loyal Wingman has been designed to fly alongside military planes and provide support with surveillance, reconnaissance, or electronic warfare. It can fly either under control from a pilot on the ground, or by itself thanks to the AI system that powers it. The publicly available details reveal the machine is 38-feet (11.7 meters) long, and can fly for as much as 2,000 nautical miles (2,300 miles or 3,700 km) in a single mission.

Unlike most other drones currently in use, this one can team up with others (hence the Airpower Teaming System name of the project) and perform more complex tasks.

Back in March, Boeing received a $115 million contract from the Australian government to complete the drone’s design, the evolution of payloads, and a sustainment system for the aircraft during operation. At least six Wingmen are slotted for production in the mid-term future.
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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