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Graphic shows details of Boeing’s “loyal wingman” concept.
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MILITARY

Boeing's ‘“Loyal Wingman” makes maiden flight

By Jordi Bou

March 5, 2021 - “Loyal Wingman”, a joint project between Boeing and Australia’s military, is a combat drone capable of flying alongside manned aircraft, offering fighter jet-like performance at a much lower cost.

The “Loyal Wingman” – the first military aircraft designed and manufactured in Australia in over 50 years – made its first flight on Feb 27.

The aircraft is 11.6m long, has a 2,000 nautical mile (3,700km) range, and a nose that can be outfitted with various payloads. The aircraft can also carry weapons and act as a shield to help protect more expensive manned fighter jets, according to its developers.

Boeing has decided to the Loyal Wingman as the basis for its $400 million U.S. Air Force Skyborg prototype, an executive at the plane maker said on Mar 2.

As part of the Skyborg programme, the U.S. Air Force hopes to build a family of low-cost, attritable drones that can be reused, but are cheap enough that losses in combat can be financially and operationally tolerated.

The project is meant to produce a family of uncrewed aerial systems that can move into contested spaces and conduct aerial missions that might be too dangerous for human pilots to perform.

Sources
PUBLISHED: 05/03/2021; STORY: Graphic News
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