Boeing Australia's Loyal Wingman Airpower Teaming System has taken flight for the first time at the Woomera range in SA.
The aircraft flew under the supervision of a Boeing test pilot monitoring the aircraft from a ground control station.
Following a series of taxi tests validating ground handling, navigation and control, and pilot interface, the aircraft completed a successful takeoff under its own power before flying a pre-determined route at different speeds and altitudes to verify flight functionality and demonstrate the performance of the Airpower Teaming System design.
"History has been made with the first Australian-designed and developed military aircraft to be built here in over 50 years – the Loyal Wingman – completing its first flight in SA," Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.
"It’s Australian ingenuity at its best. With a range of 3,700km, this world-leading, cutting-edge capability will help protect and support Australia’s most valuable Defence aircraft, and the pilots who fly them.
"Our Government is backing this program in with a further $115 million investment to support the next stage of development, which is a partnership between the RAAF and Boeing Australia."
"It has been both a long road for an incredibly talented team and a short road by aerospace standards from detailed design to flight in three years," Shane Arnott, Loyal Wingman program director, said on LinkedIn. "A deep note of appreciation for our partners, the RAAF, who doubled down on their commitment with an extension to the RAAF Loyal Wingman program for $115M including additional airplanes, continued system and payload development and a much extended test program.
"Also to our industry partners, BAE Systems Australia, a co-investor, Ferra, AME, MeT, RUAG and the rest of the over 35 Australian companies and international suppliers contributing to this program - thank you for working with us. We are collectively building what will be a game changing capability for Australia and her allies, helping redefine the future of air combat."
“The Loyal Wingman’s first flight is a major step in this long-term, significant project for the Air Force and Boeing Australia, and we’re thrilled to be a part of the successful test,” Air Vice-Marshal Cath Roberts, RAAF Head of Air Force Capability, said. “The Loyal Wingman project is a pathfinder for the integration of autonomous systems and artificial intelligence to create smart human-machine teams.
“Through this project we are learning how to integrate these new capabilities to complement and extend air combat and other missions.”
The aircraft conducted its first taxi test in December.