Progress in the Australian Loyal Wingman Program

By Andrew McLaughlin

Boeing Defence Australia has announced it has successfully demonstrated its Advanced Teaming System (ATS) concept through the use of sub-scale jet powered drones.

The demonstration is a key milestone in the company’s development of the ATS Loyal Wingman for the RAAF through Air Force Minor Program DEF 6014 Phase 1, for which Boeing will deliver three full scale air vehicles and associated systems.

While Boeing has drawn upon its decades of unmanned systems expertise through its US parent, it has also developed many of the technologies in use on the ATS program locally.

The sub-scale jets can reach speeds of up to 180kts, and Boeing says the demonstration showed the jets were able to safely communicate and coordinate with each other.

Boeing’s announcement coincides with one by the QLD state government which will invest an initial $14.5 million in the development of an unmanned systems test facility at the western Queensland town of Cloncurry.

The facility will initially comprise a hangar, operations room, surveillance radar and communications equipment, and is expected to be able to support unmanned systems up to 150kg in weight.

“Our government was the first in Australia to launch a drone strategy, and now we’re well on the way to becoming the nation’s drone technology capital,” State development minister and minister responsible for the Queensland Drone Strategy Cameron Dick said.

Boeing Defence Australia is expected to be the first tenant of the new facility.

This article was published by ADBR on November 22, 2019.