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Boeing finally unveils Australian-made Loyal Wingman prototype

written by Adam Thorn | May 5, 2020

The Loyal Wingman prototype
The Boeing Loyal Wingman prototype has finally been unveiled (Boeing)

Boeing has finally unveiled the first of three prototypes in its unmanned ‘Loyal Wingman’ program – the first military aircraft to be designed, engineered and manufactured in Australia in more than 50 years.

The 11.5-metre-long, artificially intelligent device will now move onto ground testing, followed by test flights later this year.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said, “This is a truly historic moment for our country and for Australian defence innovation. The Loyal Wingman will be pivotal to exploring the critical capabilities our Air Force needs to protect our nation and its allies into the future.”

The ground-breaking prototype is not a remotely controlled drone but instead uses artificial intelligence to help both manned and unmanned aircraft in mid-air, hence the Australian project name Loyal Wingman.

Around the world, it will known as the Boeing Airpower Teaming System (BATS).


It was manufactured with Boeing’s largest-ever resin-infused single composite piece and engineered using a digital twin to model its structures, systems and capabilities.

BATS program director Dr Shane Arnott said, “The Loyal Wingman is a historic development program for the Australian aerospace industry, Boeing and our entire industry team, and we’ve worked together with speed and agility to deliver this smart unmanned aircraft.

“We’ve leveraged the skills of the local supply chain to build a Loyal Wingman that will work together with other airpower teaming assets to provide an unmatched capability for Australia and for our global customers.

“The BATS platform is shaping up to be a potent addition to the Royal Australian Air Force’s airpower capabilities, working with platforms like the F-35, Super Hornet, Growler and E-7 Wedgetail, the most exciting piece is the growing interest from key allies serving as a powerful example of Australia’s growing defence manufacturing base.”

Air Marshal Mel Hupfeld, Chief of the RAAF, said, “This project is an excellent example of innovation through collaboration and what can be achieved working together with defence industry. This demonstrates the importance of the relationship Air Force has with Boeing Australia and defence industry more broadly.

“I look forward to exploring the capabilities this aircraft may bring to our existing fleet in the future.”

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Comments (21)

  • PAUL


    Tin man lives & looking good..

  • PB


    I’d be interested to learn what de-ice system that Boeing proposes for this pilotless aircraft.
    It looks interesting.

  • Gary


    What could possibly go wrong?

    • Chris


      Possibli go wrong.


      Huh, that’s the first thing that’s ever gone wrong…

  • Henry


    ….designed, engineered and manufactured in Australia in more than 50 years. The dear GAF Nomad (which I had the displeasure of flying) has been forgotten about.

  • John Geary


    Designed and built in Australia, good idea.
    No remote human control , artificial intelligence??

  • Graeme


    I heard a whisper it could be named Wirraway 2

  • Greg


    Is it just me, or did this pop out of nowhere?

  • SeeSure


    It will be interesting to see what sensor choices will be offered.

  • Kevin


    With no life support to worry about I’d love to know how high can this bat could fly!

  • Marum


    In memory of the Nomad. This aircraft will be named the Gonad II.

    Snort….Marum.(Die fliessende Katze)

  • Brian Green


    Just what DOES it or WILL it do…?/

  • AW


    Only problem I can see if it works it’s a Boeing product with help from Australia. If it fails them it is Australian, not that I think it will fail.

  • Peter


    Congratulations Boeing and RAAF. This innovation presents a rare opportunity to re-kindle the development of a defence aerospace engineering industry in Australia on a scale that matches our industry capabilities.

  • Bernard


    Hackers are just drooling for this one. Also, Why not call it powerful owl ? or magpie in order to ensure diversification of predator type names? We have too many Eagle, Hawk and like already.

  • Alan Pace


    Defence Procurement immune although Covid19 virus rages.

  • Enzo


    better engrave that Australian made Kangaroo Label on those panels

  • Adrian P


    I am with Brian Green.
    What will it do? (Except, like most military projects be late and over budget).
    When I started my apprenticeship I was told the first part of designing an item was to identify a need.
    If we could adapt this item to fight a fire at night in terrain difficult to access, so the fires do not grow into mega-fires it might be useful.

  • To think of the billions that were wasted on the Australian car industry Holden and Ford who never had an innovative idea between them in decades of manufacturing, all of the technology in Australian built cars came from overseas and was generally a decade old before being introduced into Aussie Holdens and Fords, that money would of been multiplied in returns if spent in military innovation in this country.

  • Stewart Lowe


    The thing is Australian, so give a colloquial Australian name. It is a “friendly” not hostile machine, it will back-up, cooperate with other aircraft and share workloads; be there when needed most. What is an Australian who does those things and can be described with a particularly Australian word The word to describe such a friend, of course, is – COBBER. Cobber is even a two syllable word, COB-BER. – and a plain two syllable word is easily distinguishable when heard over a radio.

  • John Geary


    Another name could be Jindivick 2, after the last Aussie made drone.

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