Boeing has announced that it has delivered the first Loyal Wingman prototype to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF).
The Loyal Wingman has been developed to support operations by the RAAF’s manned fighter fleet, essentially allowing drones to conduct the most dangerous parts of the sortie.
Speaking ahead of the roll-out Australian Prime Minister Scott Morison stated:
“This a truly historic moment for our country and for Australian defense 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.”
According to Boeing the Loyal Wingman will have a range of 2,000 nautical miles
Manned-Unmanned teaming is using drones under the control of manned aircraft in the same strike package. This almost completely negates the risk of hostile forces being able to jam communications with drones due to using line-of-sight communications.
Line-of-sight communications allow wave lengths such as a light spectrum to be used, thus reducing the impact of electronic warfare.
If the Loyal Wingman is successful it could well see more programs of a similar nature coming to the fore.
It is currently known that all of the world’s major military players are developing manned-unmanned teaming systems and these are expected to enter service in the very near future.
Manned-Unmanned Teaming is expected to revolutionize the modern battlefield. Much of the technology required was considered Sci-Fi in the not too distant past, going to show how far the technology has come in recent years.
Nick Ashwell-Rice has worked in aviation and defence journalism since 2014 whilst also maintaining a career outside of the industry. He has been Editor-in-Chief at Talking Aero since its inception