There Are Now Two AI-Powered BATS in the Sky, More Are Coming

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 March, Boeing’s Australia division announced the completion of the first flight test for the Loyal Wingman drone, also known as the Boeing Airpower Teaming System, or BATS. The defense contractor is of course very serious about this machine, and now has two examples of it flying.
In what it calls an expansion of the flight-test program for BATS, Boeing said this week “two aircraft successfully completing separate flight missions” at the Woomera Range Complex in South Australia, at an undisclosed date.

As per the manufacturer, the first drone managed to demonstrate so far “a range of key characteristics,” and was the one to raise and engage, for the first time, the landing gear designed for it, while the second “successfully completed” its undisclosed mission.

The data gathered by the two drones that have completed their flight missions will be fed by Boeing into a digital design which will be used to speed up the development program of an actual working fleet.

The announcement surrounding the expansion of the test fleet comes a month or so after Boeing said the drone would be assembled in its “first aircraft assembly facility of its kind outside of North America,” signaling how much faith it has in its product.

And it should, considering what this thing has been bred to do. We’re talking about an AI-governed drone that can fly alone, if need be, but was designed to fly in support of other military, crewed airplanes.

The 38-feet (11.7 meters) long machine has a conventional shape and can fly for as much as 2,300 miles (3,700 km) in a single mission. It can support allied troops by providing surveillance and reconnaissance, but can also take a more active role and conduct electronic warfare.

At least six of these beasts are considered 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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