Boeing reveals Australia’s first combat drone.
As technology becomes intertwined more and more with everyday life, it also creeps into the running and protection of a country and Australia is no exception. At a Tuesday morning ceremony, Boeing is set to roll out the first “Loyal Wingman” drone for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) which puts them quite high up on the list of countries experimenting with autonomous aircraft.
Currently, the RAAF has plans to buy three drones, which Boeing calls the Airpower Teaming System, as part of the Loyal Wingman Advanced Development Program. Using a series of flight tests and demonstrations, the RAAF will try to figure out how to best integrate drones with fighter jets and other combat aircraft, allowing the air force to keep pilots safe by putting lower-cost unmanned assets at risk during a fight. By having autonomy and artificial intelligence work alongside existing forces, it allows for a much stronger defense against any threats that may arise, while also not risking as many human lives.
Being a semi-autonomous aircraft, other pilots won’t need to manually control the aircraft for maneuvers and flying, but it does need some human input to know what it needs to do in the first place.
Just looking at this formidable piece of engineering is enough to make the enemy’s shake in terror. Not only does it look sleek and powerful, but it also has the capabilities to back that up. The ATS measures in at a staggering 38-feet-long with and 8.5-foot-long detachable nose, with a volume of over 90,000 cubic inches, that can be packed full of mission-specific sensors and other necessary payloads. For security reasons, Boeing has declined to detail the aircraft’s stealth and attack features but what has been said is that their engineers worked extremely hard to get the right amount of ‘good’ right across the board, making it an all-round top-notch piece of equipment.
There are also plans to expand sales outside of Australia and into international markets. Thanks to the detachable nose and customizability of the payloads, it’s extremely appealing to other countries. The customized modular payloads could even be built using indigenous supplies, which stimulated the local economy and businesses, further increasing the attractiveness of this product. While the price is a factor, it’s known to be cheaper than current manned aircraft thanks to its simple design but specifics were not discussed.
The possibilities behind this unmanned air vehicle are almost endless. The military uses are enough to draw any country into purchasing one, the low cost and artificial intelligence are just added bonuses. It’s likely Boeing will be expanding into international markets soon and it won’t be long before they’re seen in military arsenals all over the world. So keep your eyes to the sky around military bases, you may get to see a glimpse of one of these spectacular machines!