The Boeing 'Loyal Wingman' is Australia's first combat drone

Humza

Posts: 686   +159
Staff member

Boeing's Australian arm recently presented the first 'Loyal Wingman' combat drone to the RAAF, an advanced jet-powered stealth UAV with a range of over 3,700 km. In its official statement, Boeing terms the event as a historic milestone for the company, marking its largest investment in unmanned aircraft technology outside of the US.

The drone will serve as a foundation for Boeing's Airpower Teaming System, aimed at strengthening its presence in the global defense industry and providing militaries with an affordable combat asset that uses autonomous technology and AI to enhance aerial capabilities.

The 38ft long Loyal Wingman is a sizable drone that has only four moving surfaces and a removable 8.5ft long nose that can be packed with different sensors and payloads according to mission requirements.

Boeing created a "digital twin" of the drone to simulate its operation throughout the design process and to cover its production and maintainability aspects. The aircraft also uses Boeing's largest-ever resin-infused single composite piece in the structure to help with reducing the cost and manpower needed for the fabrication process.

Another highlight of the drone is the AI and semi-autonomous capability that will allow it to expertly maneuver itself, requiring little to no input from fighter pilots. "When you are teaming, say with a Super Hornet, they don’t have the luxury during combat maneuvers or operations to be remotely piloting another aircraft while doing their own," said Shane Arnott, Boeing's ATS program director.

The first prototype, which took shape earlier this year, was powered on for the first time in April and will now undergo ground testing, followed by taxi and a debut flight later this year.

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GeforcerFX

Posts: 952   +442
But can it shoot? And hit what it aims at?
The USAF loyal Wingman Valkyrie can carry strike ordinance. They are looking at a2a ordinance, targets are designated by the controller. With a2a shots it would be getting target information from a fighter (F-35) or a awacs or maybe a surface asset (destroyer, cruiser, something with a fire control quality track).
 

Ludak021

Posts: 218   +146
Australia has ~30 million people. They a need military drone. Probaly a few Armata tanks too. Add a squadron of suhois or F35s for good measure. You never know, someone might invade.
 

GeforcerFX

Posts: 952   +442
Australia has ~30 million people. They a need military drone. Probaly a few Armata tanks too. Add a squadron of suhois or F35s for good measure. You never know, someone might invade.
Australia buys Western weapons, they operate super hornets and legacy hornets and are buying 100 F-35As already (member of the JSF program). They operate Abrams tanks and are currently overhauling there Navy with new Frigates new submarines and have already added 2 amphibious assault ships.
 

Mister_K

Posts: 1,918   +610
So Australia needs better defence to fight the kangaroos? Blimey! Must be lethal ****ers!

In all honesty, while it is great that military is pushing some innovations which will trickle down to civilian world at some point, what is this exactly needed for? Last I checked, Australia had massive fires which relied on foreign aid, but now you are buying all these drones? Great logic!
 

Capaill

Posts: 1,200   +737
Australia has ~30 million people. They a need military drone. Probaly a few Armata tanks too. Add a squadron of suhois or F35s for good measure. You never know, someone might invade.
Your logic being that Australia has no mineral or geographical advantage that a foreign nation (such as China, Indonesia or the Philippines) might find useful and therefore should not invest in their military defence?
 

captaincranky

Posts: 16,065   +4,867
They could probably make better use of these old F7F "Tigercats", which were equipped as "Fire Bombers", after their retirement.

I think the belly tanks held about 800 gallons of water.



Although granted, the planes and their parts are becoming "a bit" hard to come by
 

jackal2687

Posts: 105   +30
TechSpot Elite
The USAF loyal Wingman Valkyrie can carry strike ordinance. They are looking at a2a ordinance, targets are designated by the controller. With a2a shots it would be getting target information from a fighter (F-35) or a awacs or maybe a surface asset (destroyer, cruiser, something with a fire control quality track).

I imagine you can designate targets and have the drone fire a missile as opposed to using your own ordinance. Gives you more firepower with less pilots.
 
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PEnnn

Posts: 409   +342
Let's hope they won't be as smart and sophisticated as the Boeing 737-Max.....

I guess Boeing needs a few billions after most orders for 737-Max were cancelled, and the Aussies were quick to grab the lure.
 
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GeforcerFX

Posts: 952   +442
They could probably make better use of these old F7F "Tigercats", which were equipped as "Fire Bombers", after their retirement.

I think the belly tanks held about 800 gallons of water.



Although granted, the planes and their parts are becoming "a bit" hard to come by
They use Air tractor 802 Fireboss which have like 1000-1200 gallon tanks and are a SEAT so a bit more economical.

Last I checked, Australia had massive fires which relied on foreign aid, but now you are buying all these drones? Great logic!
They had a extraordinarily bad fire season this year, they don't normally rely on foreign aid, they use American and Canadian equipment under contract since our fire seasons are opposite times of the year from each other.
 

Ludak021

Posts: 218   +146
Your logic being that Australia has no mineral or geographical advantage that a foreign nation (such as China, Indonesia or the Philippines) might find useful and therefore should not invest in their military defence?
No. They offers you a lot of money and you rent the land for 99 years. No need for war. Or you go to Indonesia and rent their land and exploit cobalt there. see? No need for war. Just have money.
 
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mbrowne5061

Posts: 1,525   +846
Seriously who are Australia's enemies? Their citizens are more likely to die from a spider or snake bike. That money would be better spent on their health services.
1. China
2. Philippines
3. Indonesia
4. India (maybe, at some point in the future if they stay on their nationalization track)
 

captaincranky

Posts: 16,065   +4,867
Seriously who are Australia's enemies? Their citizens are more likely to die from a spider or snake bike. That money would be better spent on their health services.
- Australia and New Zealand had (or has) a combined military force called by an acronym, "ANZAC". The fought on the side or the allies in WWII.

Any nation that wishes a sense of identity, independence and security needs a standing military force.

I realize that meed seem a bit abstract to the basement X-Box players of recent generation, who are in fact, completely convinced they are the center of the universe. But trust me, it is standing armies, and the dedicated people that serve in them, that bestow all freedoms upon you.

The following is a song called, "And the Band Played 'Waltzing Matilda', which outlines the results of a WWI confrontation between the Turks and Aussie forces. Judging by the context, it woulld seem that turkish gunfire and shelling was a lot more deadly that native snake bites.It's a little bit morbid and somewhat slow paced, but try to tough it out:


And here's a song from, "The Seekers", which many Aussies believe should be their national anthem:


I'll leave to to your progressive thoughts now.You can use them to shelter you from reality.. :rolleyes:
 
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captaincranky

Posts: 16,065   +4,867
They use Air tractor 802 Fireboss which have like 1000-1200 gallon tanks and are a SEAT so a bit more economical.
As long as you realize I was being facetious with my suggestion of the "Tigercats", we're good. (There are hardly enough F7Fs left in the world to put out a Boy Scout campfire).

The following image is of a SEAT fighting a fire in Oregon, USA. I couldn't help but notice it has the same overall configuration as a typical crop dusting aircraft:

.
 

GeforcerFX

Posts: 952   +442
As long as you realize I was being facetious with my suggestion of the "Tigercats", we're good. (There are hardly enough F7Fs left in the world to put out a Boy Scout campfire).

The following image is of a SEAT fighting a fire in Oregon, USA. I couldn't help but notice it has the same overall configuration as a typical crop dusting aircraft:

.
I figured you were joking, but decided to throw some info around, the Seat tankers are usually converted crop sprayers or were based on them and are just dedicated tankers now. That fireboss system I was talking about for the 802 is a kit that can be taken on and off again. On a side note I like the Tigercat, was one of the more interesting looking Navy prop fighters.
 

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