Boeing has announced that its Loyal Wingman prototype has completed its first high-speed taxi in a “remote test location” in Australia.
The planemaker also revealed it has pushed back its first flight from the end of 2020 to early 2021.
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.
It uses AI to help both manned and unmanned aircraft in mid-air, hence the Australian project name Loyal Wingman.
“Boeing test personnel monitored the aircraft’s performance and instrumentation from a ground control station to verify the functionality, while the vehicle reached accelerated speeds,” said the business in a statement. “The uncrewed aircraft has been undergoing low-, medium-, and high-speed taxi testing.”
RAAF Head of Air Force Capability, Air Vice-Marshal Cath Roberts, said “There is something very special about testing an aircraft that takes technology to the next level. It is iconic in its own way.
“Experiencing the enthusiasm of the Boeing and Air Force team reminded me of my early career testing aircraft. This is what innovation is all about – working together to achieve many firsts.”
Paul Ryder, Boeing Flight Test manager added, “Our test program is progressing well, and we are happy with the ground test data we have collected to date. We are working with the Air Warfare Centre to complete final test verifications to prepare for flight testing in the new year.”
More than 35 members of Australian industry are supporting prototype work across four Australian states, while Queensland will house the final assembly facility for finished aircraft.
The state hopes to have the UAV, also known as the Boeing Airpower Teaming System, produced at the factory by the middle of the decade, with prototype testing and certification happening before that.
Boeing has also hinted the deal could lead to further work heading to Queensland in the future.