Boeing Loyal Wingman combat drone is made to support fighter jets

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Aerospace company Boeing has taken the wraps off its new ‘Loyal Wingman’ concept demonstrator for the Boeing Airpower Teaming System. The unmanned combat drone was designed by Boeing Australia, according to the company, for ‘global defense customers.’ The Loyal Wingman model was introduced at the Australian International Airshow recently by the nation’s defense minister.

According to the company, the Boeing Airpower Teaming System will offer unmanned ‘fighter-like’ performance alongside a large 38ft size; the vehicle can fly more than 2,000 nautical miles. Artificial intelligence is used to enable independent flight, but the vehicle can also be used alongside manned aircraft to offer support.

Sensor packages are built into the vehicle, enabling it to be used as part of ‘intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions,’ according to Boeing, as well as ‘electronic warfare.’ The company anticipates its first flight taking place in 2020.

The unmanned system is Boeing’s biggest investment in an unmanned aircraft program outside of the US, making it ‘a historic endeavor’ for the company, according to Boeing International’s President Marc Allen. “Not only is it developed outside the United States, it is also designed so that our global customers can integrate local content to meet their country-specific requirements,” he explained.

The Loyal Wingman concept demonstrator will be used to gather data that’ll aid the Boeing Airport Teaming System production. Boeing shared a concept video showing the unmanned vehicle next to fighter jets via its Twitter account:

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