Mar 1, 2021 - Energy & Environment

Boeing's first fighter-like jet completes historic test flight

Boeing's pilotless, fighter-like jet, dubbed the "Loyal Wingman."

Boeing's pilotless, fighter-like jet, called the "Loyal Wingman." Photo: Boeing

Boeing and the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) announced Tuesday local time that they've completed the first test flight of a pilotless fighter-like jet devised to operate alongside crewed aircraft.

Why it matters: The "Loyal Wingman" combat drone is serving as the foundation for the Boeing Airpower Teaming System being developed for the company's global defense customers. It has the potential to "revolutionize the RAAF's air combat tactics playbook," per The Drive.

The big picture: A Boeing test pilot was monitoring from a ground control station in South Australia's outback during the autonomous plane's flight, according to a joint statement from Boeing and the RAAF.

  • The Australian government has invested US$31 million in the product, which Boeing said previously has drawn interest from countries including the U.S., Reuters notes.
  • It's the first military plane designed and made in Australia in over 50 years.

What they're saying: Air Vice-Marshal Cath Roberts, RAAF head of Air Force Capability, said in a statement, "The Loyal Wingman project is a pathfinder for the integration of autonomous systems and artificial intelligence to create smart human-machine teams."

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