Boeing’s Loyal Wingman makes progress in flight testing

Boeing Australia has announced the expansion to the flight-test programme of Boeing’s Airpower Teaming System, known as the Loyal Wingman, following the completion of two separate flight missions at the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Woomera range in South Australia.

Developed in partnership with the RAAF, the first Loyal Wingman aircraft serial PRV-001 demonstrated key characteristics during the test flight to expand the flight envelope of the programme, including the raising and engaging of the landing gear for the first time during flight. RUAG Australia supplied the landing gear system, with BAE Systems Australia also involved in the design, supply and support of the flight control and navigation systems. 

Loyal Wingman
Boeing's Airpower Teaming System, the Loyal Wingman unmmaned aircraft flies in the RAAF Woomera Range Complex in South Australia during a recent test flight. Australian Department of Defence

Whilst the first aircraft  was performing these tests, the second Loyal Wingman was also airborne performing its first test flight mission, this being the first time two Loyal Wingman aircraft were witnessed sharing airspace.

In a November 4 release from Boeing, AVM Cath Roberts, RAAF Head of Air Force Capability, said: “It is so exciting seeing two aircraft in the air as the Loyal Wingman continues to excel in the flight-test programme. This opens up significant capability agility for [the RAAF], particularly with features such as the reconfigurable nose.” 

Roberts added: “We’re heavily engaged in the payload development and the element of surprise that it gives us in the battlespace. You never really know what’s in the nose.” 

Loyal Wingman
Two Boeing Loyal Wingman unmanned aircraft in RAAF markings prior to test flights. Boeing Australia 

Throughout both test flights, personnel from Boeing and the RAAF gathered data on the aircraft’s performance. The data gathered will then be utilised to refine the digital twin of the Boeing Airpower Teaming System. 

The concept of the Loyal Wingman is to either fly solo or alongside other air assets for roles such as force multiplication and power projection.