The Boeing Loyal Wingman aircraft being developed with the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) recently moved under its own power for the first time, a key milestone for the aircraft that’s expected to make its first flight this year.
“Seeing the prototype take to the runway for this low-speed taxi test is an exciting moment – another significant development milestone ahead of its first flight,” said Air Vice-Marshal Cath Roberts, RAAF Head of Air Force Capability.
Reaching a maximum speed of 14 knots (26kmph), on the ground, the aircraft demonstrated several activities while maneuvering and stopping on command.
“The low-speed taxi enabled us to verify the function and integration of the aircraft systems, including steering, braking and engine controls, with the aircraft in motion,” said Paul Ryder, Boeing Australia Flight Test manager.
The 38-foot (11.7-meter) Loyal Wingman (Boeing Airpower Teaming System) drone is designed to use artificial intelligence (AI) in teaming with other manned and unmanned platforms.
Three Loyal Wingman prototypes will be the foundation for the Airpower Teaming System that Boeing will offer customers worldwide.
The aircraft will fly alongside other platforms, using AI for such teaming missions. It has advanced design and flight characteristics, including a modular nose section that’s customizable for specific needs and a conventional take-off and landing approach suitable for many missions and runway types.