Boeing has announced it has powered up the commercial turbofan engine on the first Loyal Wingman, a crucial milestone in preparing for its first flight, writes Stephen Kuper.
Loyal Wingman, fully unveiled to the world in May, is the first military aircraft to be designed, engineered and manufactured in Australia in more than 50 years.
The aircraft uses AI to help both manned and unmanned aircraft in mid-air, hence the Australian project name Loyal Wingman.
Around the world, it will be known as the Boeing Airpower Teaming System (BATS).
Dr Shane Arnott, program director of the Boeing Airpower Teaming System, said, “This engine run gets us closer toward flying the first aircraft later this year and was successful thanks to the collaboration and dedication of our team.
“We’ve been able to select a very light, off-the-shelf jet engine for the unmanned system as a result of the advanced manufacturing technologies applied to the aircraft.”
More than 35 members of the Australian industry are supporting prototype work across four Australian states.
The Loyal Wingman prototype now moves into ground testing, followed by taxi and first flight in late-2020.
Earlier this year, Prime Minister Scott Morrison called the unveiling of three prototypes a “truly historic moment for our country”.
“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,” PM Morrison said.
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.